Grenfell Tower fire victims' national memorial in London attended by 1,500, including high officials

Kate Green/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(LONDON) — Holding white roses and photographs of their loved ones, families of the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire gathered for a national memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Thursday.

Exactly six months ago, on July 14th, the fire in the 24-story high-rise in North Kensington claimed the lives of 71 people — 53 adults and 18 children. Many of the survivors remain unsettled without permanent housing.

On the eve of the families’ first New Year without their loved ones, members of the Royal Family and high-ranking officials joined the bereaved families to give thanks to those who stood with them since then.

With more than 1,500 people in attendance, the Bishop of Kensington, the Right Reverend Dr. Graham Tomlin, said he believes the catastrophe was the result of neglecting the community.

“Today we ask why warnings were not heeded, why a community was left feeling neglected, uncared for, not listened to,” Tomlin said, addressing the audience that included members of the extended community, public support workers, emergency and recovery teams and volunteers.

Tomlin said he hoped it would become a turning point and that communities like Grenfell will be heard more in the future.

“My hope and prayer is that this new year can bring new hope of a future,” Tomlin added, “a vision of a city where we lose our self-obsession and listen and learn from places and people that we wouldn’t normally think of reaching out to.”

He said he hoped the word “Grenfell” would transform over time from a symbol of “sorrow, grief or injustice” to “a symbol of the time we learned a new and better way: to listen and to love.”

During the service, a young Syrian musician played mournful music with an oud, an instrument used in countries in the Middle East and Africa, from which many of the Grenfell fire victims had heritage.

“Remember Me” by Persian poet, Rumi, was read by one of the fire’s survivors, Nadia Jafari. She managed to escape from the tower, but lost her elderly father, Ali, to the fire.

Among the officials and Royal Family members attending the service were Prime Minister Theresa May, the opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Prince Charles and his sons Prince William and Prince Harry.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.