'All my life Carnival has been so important to me. It’s a time of togetherness and community'
It is ten weeks since the Grenfell Tower fire claimed the lives of more than 80 people. This weekend, as an estimated two million people arrive in Notting Hill for the annual bank holiday Carnival, the festivities will be underpinned with tributes to community members who lost their lives.
As the Carnival route passes by the Lancaster West Estate, the site of the Grenfell Tower, floats will shut off their music in a designated ‘quiet zone’ as a mark of respect for the victims and their families.
Carnival goers have also been invited to wear a specially designed wristband, conceived by Grenfell survivor Nick Burton and his neighbour, Zohra Ensser, who remains evacuated from the nearest walkway.
‘All my life Carnival has been so important to me. It’s a time of togetherness and community’ says Burton, ‘This year I just wanted there to be something that people could wear to show they remember those who were lost and also to let both survivors and those brave emergency services who did all they could to save us know that we will never forget them.’
The fabric wristband has been designed in collaboration with the Love4Grenfell group, who in the aftermath of the fire on 14th June created a heart-shaped London Underground logo in tribute to the victims. Teeshirts with the heart symbol on them were sold to raise money for the Grenfell survivors and were worn by (among others) Adwoah Aboah, Rita Ora, Cara Delevingne and Grime star Stormzy.
The design was originally created by lifelong Ladbroke Grove resident Charlie Crockett (A.IN.T London) and stylist Kyle De’volle for another project, but on the night of the fire Crockett ran to the estate where his sister and many friends lived, and the following morning changed the wording on his design to Grenfell.
Crockett, who also designed the wristband, says that for what has been dubbed the ‘Grenfell Carnival’, the simple symbol will be given a special twist in red, gold and green. Carnival attendees have already been asked by survivor and community groups to ‘wear something green’ to show you, ‘come in the spirit of peace to respect and remember our lost friends and family’.
‘I want to thank everyone who got behind this, who stuck with us’, says Crockett, ‘We found someone very special to work with who was trusted by all the surviving families and we worked with her to provide fast solutions to people’s immediate needs. We just want to help and let everyone know they are not forgotten.’
Zohra Ensser, a hairdresser and mother of three, stood with her youngest daughter, 11, at the foot of the tower on the night of the Grenfell fire. Ensser says, ‘As we stood handing out water to our neighbours who got out that night, I saw the sacrifice of our firemen and women. With these wristbands I wanted to thank them, and send them the same love we give from the depth of our hearts to our neighbours from the tower every day.’
Among those backing the project is a local firefighter, one of the first to attend the scene, who is an old friend of the family of Grenfell victim, Jessica Urbano. Jessica’s Uncle Carlos, like other members of the community around Grenfell, will be helping out. The firefighter says, ‘Nothing takes the knot from my stomach or the tears from my eyes. We’re all just heartbroken. People died in that fire and I want to honour their memory. This is why I wanted to help with the wristbands.’
Love4Grenfell wristbands and T shirts will be on sale from a Portobello Market stall on Tavistock Square on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th August. Or, pre-pay online and collect from the Love4Grenfell market stall or from other Love4Grenfell stalls on the Carnival route (precise locations available on request)