12 of the most powerful Grenfell tributes, 4 years on

12 of the most powerful Grenfell tributes, 4 years on

Today marks four years since a small kitchen fire in a west London flat turned into the most deadly domestic blaze since World War Two.

The blaze broke out on the fourth floor of Kensington’s 23-storey Grenfell Tower just before 1am on June 14, 2017.

Within minutes, the flames had torn up the exterior of the building. By 3am, most of the upper floors were alight.

Seventy-two lives were claimed in the tragedy, including 17 children.

As questions continue to be asked about the circumstances surrounding the horrors, and as victims continue to seek justice, here is a look at some of the most powerful tributes to those lost – and to those who continue to fight for them.

1) The green heart

The most iconic image is what remains of the tower itself, covered with protective hoarding, branded with the words: “Grenfell, forever in our hearts.”

The green heart has become a symbol of rememberance for those lost, with the colour chosen because the name Grenfell is an adaptation of the world “green field.”

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2) Names along the railing

A piece of green ribbon hangs from a railing in Silchester Road, just opposite the tower, bearing placards of all of the names of the victims of the fire:


3) ‘J4G’

This photo, taken on the one-year anniversary of the disaster, shows a woman holding a floral offering of red roses spelling “J4G” (Justice for Grenfell) as she walks to the Wall of Truth memorial space:

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4) Messages of rememberance

A memorial to the dead covered with personal messages and tributes was created near to the tower and remains a site of pilgrimage:

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5) Landmarks lit up in green

Members of the public hold a vigil and commemoration near Grenfell Tower on June 14, 2018, as landmarks across the city were lit up in green:

AFP via Getty Images

6) A reminder to London authorities

Number 10 Downing Street was among them, serving as a reminder to many of failings by authorities to prevent such tragedies happening in London’s housing blocks.

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7) Grenfell graffiti

On Boxing Day, 2020, Oxford Circus tube station was found to be covered in graffiti, some of which was dedicated to the Grenfell victims.

Travellers on the northbound Victoria and Bakerloo lines discovered the messages, which included the words: “Oi!! Muppets. What if it was your “houses” that burnt down!!! All Power to the people”, with the letters M P and S circled to refer to members of Parliament.


8) ‘Together book’

Zahira Ghaswala proudly holds a copy of ‘Together’ – a book that tells how local women united after the tragedy to cook for the local community.

The collection features a foreword by the Duchess of Sussex.

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9) Balloons soaring into the sky

Members of the public release balloons at a service of remembrance at St Helen's Church in west London to mark two years since the fire:

AFP via Getty Images

10) Teddy bear

This simple memorial of a teddy bear tied to a railing with Grenfell towering in the background is a poignant, and painful, reminded that children were among the victims.

The youngest was six-month old Leena Belkadi, who died in her mother’s arms as she tried to flee the burning block.

Baby Logan Gomes, who was stillborn in hospital the morning after the fire, is also included in the death toll.

The oldest victim is believed to be 84-year-old Sheila Smith, who had lived in the tower for 34 years.

AFP via Getty Images

11) Victims’ press conference

Survivors and family members of people involved in the Grenfell fire pose for a photo among images of their lost loved-ones following a press conference on October 30, 2019.

The group used the event to severely criticse the emergency response at the time and call for an overhaul of the London Fire Brigade.

Relatives said many lives could have been saved if the “stay put” policy was abandoned earlier and fire commanders were not “learning on the job”.

Nazanin Aghlani, who lost two family members in the blaze, said some firefighters displayed a “serious lack of common sense” and failed to see “what was so vivid in front of them”.

From left: Nabil Choucair, El Alami Hamdan, Flora Neda, Hamid Al Jafari, Nazanin Aghlani, Shemsu Kedir, Paulos Tekle and Shah Aghlani Getty Images

12) ‘I love you’

Messages written on a board, close to the tower, feature the words: “I love you,” multiple times.

The people lost in the tragedy weren’t statistics, they were individuals who are missed to this day.

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Four years on from the fire and ex-residents are still being “denied swift justice,” a survivor has said.

Tiago Alves, 24, recalled the “frightening” and “chaotic” scenes four years ago, adding that he was “disappointed” at progress since.

He said recommendations from the phase one report of the ongoing inquiry into the fire had not been implemented, and noted the absence of the social housing white paper in the recent Queen’s Speech package of proposed legislation.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police has previously been told to wait until the public inquiry has published its final report before passing evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider any criminal charges.

“Implementing recommendations and the social housing white paper are important pieces of legislation for us to feel like it’s moving forward,” Alves said.

“Because a criminal investigation can’t go ahead until the inquiry is over, it does feel like we’re being denied swift justice.

“It still doesn’t feel like we’re any closer to achieving the justice that people who passed away deserve. It just feels like it’s taking a long time.”

The Grenfell United campaign group said there will be an online remembrance event at 7pm, while churches have been asked to simultaneously ring their bells 72 times at this time as an act of remembrance, followed by a two-minute silence.

The public are also asked to “go green for Grenfell” at 10pm by placing green lights in their homes and gardens.

Meanwhile, local churches close to the tower site have prepared a special online service to be shared on Sunday.

Alves, who still lives in the local area, said he has had therapy since the fire to help him cope with “survivor’s guilt” and the “extremely difficult” period afterwards.

“Thoughts penetrate your head and you just feel like, why was it someone else? Why was it not me? What makes me special?” he said.

He now supports the campaign for justice and backs those advocating for cladding and flammable materials to be removed from buildings.

“In our opinion, the best form of justice that we feel like we can achieve at this very moment, apart from actual criminal justice, is making sure that people are safe in their homes,” he said.

“That’s our way of honouring the legacy of those who’ve passed away, whilst at the same time feeling like their deaths weren’t in vain.”


To mark the anniversary Mr Alves said he will find time to visit the base of the tower which he wants to eventually be turned into “a memorial” and “place where the community can learn to heal and inspire the youth in the local area”.

The Covid-19 pandemic has prevented survivors and bereaved families from gathering together for months, the 24-year-old said it was important to “remember those who passed away and remember that we still have to continue fighting because justice isn’t just going to be given to us”.

Grenfell United, a group of survivors and bereaved families, said: “Four years on and time has not made our loss any easier.

“We hear more damning evidence every week at the public inquiry showing us just how preventable the fire was – had they listened.

“Yet four years on, the Government are as determined as ever to avoid taking any meaningful action to prevent another Grenfell.

“We’re determined to keep the pressure on Government to break this cycle of inaction and indifference, and to confront those guilty parties that continue to show complete disregard to the safety of us all.

“Grenfell has highlighted a toxic political culture within the construction industry. Both the Government and the building industry corporates involved have striking similarities – which is total lack of regard for human safety.

“We will continue to campaign for truth, change, and justice – not just for our loved ones, but for the whole country, to ensure that no one has to suffer how we have suffered, and so that such a tragedy never happens again.

“72 lives lost, forever in our hearts.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Today we remember the 72 lives lost in the Grenfell tragedy four years ago. My thoughts are with the survivors, the bereaved and the wider community affected by this devastating fire.

“This government is committed to ensuring this never happens again.”

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