Today the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster will hear individual pen portrait tributes to commemorate the 72 people who lost their lives in the fire.
Months of evidence will follow from various individuals and organisations as the inquiry considers what happened on that horrific night in West London, with extensive focus on how the fire started, why it was able to spread so quickly, and the lessons that must be learned.
Having represented families at the recent Hillsborough inquest, it was clear that the 96 victims were never forgotten and remained at the heart of the coroner’s investigation.
The pen portraits of those who died were an integral part of the Hillsborough inquests as they personified the individuals who lost their lives, reminding us that they were not just a nameless face but somebody’s mother, father, son or daughter.
Over the coming days we will learn about the people who lost their lives at Grenfell. They each had different lives, each are from different backgrounds, and each had different life stories. They were not just another number or statistic, they were real people who will be missed by their family, friends and the wider Grenfell community.
Time for families of Grenfell fire victims to tell world about those they loved
Undoubtedly the delivery of pen portraits will be an emotionally challenging time for the bereaved relatives and the former residents and survivors of the fire. Tributes are being delivered in the ways the families feel most comfortable, from audio recordings to statements and videos.
This is their time to tell the world about the people they loved, the people snatched from them in the most horrific circumstances.
We simply cannot lose sight of the fact that 72 lost their lives prematurely at any stage. They must always be remembered and remain at the forefront of this inquiry to ensure that lessons are learned and this tragic catastrophe is never repeated.
The pen portrait hearings will be held in the conference centre at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, 4-18 Harrington Gardens, Kensington, London SW7 4LH starting on Monday, May 21 at 11am.
From Tuesday 22 May, the hearings will start at 10.00 and the venue will open at 9.00.
The hearings will be live-streamed at the Notting Hill Methodist Church and also available to watch through the Inquiry’s website https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk.