Grenfell Tower: Fleur takes her hand-painted rocks from Ely to Grenfell to mark one year since the blaze that claimed 72 lives
- Credit: Archant
A woman from Ely took her hand-painted Grenfell Tower tributes to the capital on Thursday (June 14) to mark one year since the fire that claimed 72 lives.
Fleur Patten, with the help of volunteers, painted 72 rocks with the names of individuals who died in the Grenfell blaze with the aim of taking them to the monthly silent walk.
The rocks were previously on display at The Eel Catchers Daughter in Ely and were blessed by the Bishop of Huntingdon on Wednesday (June 13).
Fleur carried all of the rocks in a backpack on the train as she prepared to meet with a Grenfell resident Seraphina Gillard-Marshall, known in the community as Angel, Honey Hagir and chair of a Grenfell survivors group.
Fleur said: I met them at the Wall of Truth and we arranged the rocks; the 72 rocks were allocated to the green figure silhouettes that I had painted and the others were scattered around. The green candles were already lit and giving off a beautiful fragrance.
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“I was amazed at the response as soon as we arranged the rocks. Relatives of lost ones quickly assembled and held the rocks whilst fighting back tears. Others asked if they could rearrange rocks to put family members together; a mother and son.”
Fleur agreed that the rocks would be collected up before the silent walk so that relatives could see them and decide what they wanted to do with them.
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She added: “The chair of the survivors group and the chair of the bereaved group, Clary, will arrange with relatives for a presentation of the rocks later.
“It was felt that they should have an opportunity to see the rocks and decide what to do with them first.
“I will travel to Grenfell to explain and present the rocks later but they are in safe keeping at Grenfell for now.”
The silent walkers gathered at the Wall of Truth, under Westway yesterday (June 14) from 5pm. Fleur said the mood was ‘friendly’ and music was playing.
She added: “The walk began at 7.30. I have taken part in a few of the previous walks where there were hundreds of people.
“This time there were tens of thousands. People of all ages, races and creeds crammed into the concrete wasteland off St Anne’s Rd as the tower stood over us.”
Fleur describes the walk as “slow and orderly”. She said that people behaved “calmly and cooperatively” and that “the silence was deafening”.
“A baby cried and the mum became stressed. I tied the green balloon from Bibby’s landscaping to the pushchair and the baby calmed”, Fleur said.
She added: “It wasn’t possible to see the end or the beginning. Everyone wore green. It was a sea! The green scarves had been handed out to everyone and it was a powerful statement.
“The police presence was sensitive and subdued despite the crowds. Basically the crowd organised itself with Grenfell stewards in hi vis. The police controlled the traffic.
“We walked through the millionaire neighbourhoods that run right under the tower. There were messages of ‘We support Grenfell because ...” on every wall. A small boy in his pjs with his nanny waved at us.
“I walked along with families with toddlers with green hair bands, a lady head to foot in green glitter attire and an elderly lady wearing a green shalwar kameez.
“Everyone had delved into their wardrobe for something green.
“Every so often, the slow moving crowd stopped for the police to deal with the traffic. The crowd waited patiently and silently - no jostling.
“Old friends embraced. We walked past lines of empty buses and patient cab drivers with green in their windscreens.
“Eventually the walk ended in a playing field in the shadow of Grenfell where entertainment was planned. I had to leave.
“As I left, the streets were full of green people. For one day, everyone looked the same and believed in the same cause.
“Everyone believed in a peaceful and respectful protest but the undercurrent was a feeling of stoicism in the fight for justice.”