As London prepares to mark the seventh anniversary of Grenfell Tower Fire, 300 miles away, the Cornish charity, Cornwall Hugs, has added an iron-cast memorial plaque to Grenfell Street, Mousehole, to remember the 72 people who died on June 14, 2017.

Since the tragedy, the deadliest residential fire since WWll, the respite charity has welcomed hundreds of Grenfell guests to Cornwall and a special bond has grown between the communities, with over 1,000 individuals and businesses enabling the holidays.

2024 New Memorial Plaque for Grenfell Street - Cornwall Hugs.jpg
The new Memorial Plaque for Grenfell Street (Picture: Cornish Huggs)

Continuing this solidarity, churches across the county and Isles of Scilly, are joining in a prayer for Grenfell written specially by the Rt Rev Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans. The seventh anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire is on Friday.

In the week following the fire, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell set out a vision on Facebook to offer Cornwall’s natural sanctuary to survivors, the bereaved and firefighters. In October 2023 the charity welcomed it’s 500th guest. Many families have been hosted in Mousehole and in 2019 Grenfell families unveiled a special street sign with a green Grenfell heart, in the village’s ancient street, coincidentally already called Grenfell Street.

2024 Mounting new sign - Esme Page + George Robinson - Cornwall Hugs
Esme Page and George Robinson mounting new sign to Grenfell Street (Picture: Cornwall Hugs)

As the years pass, the new memorial plaque will remind visitors of the date of the tragedy and its great toll. It honours the 72 who died, including 18 children, and celebrates the solidarity - the spirit of ‘One and All’ - between the communities. The new plaque is placed midway down the way to enable children and those in wheelchairs to read it more easily. Forty per cent of Grenfell Tower’s disabled residents died in the fire.

“So many people stop and take photos of the unique street sign but increasingly we hear them struggling to remember the facts about the fire,” said Cornwall Hugs Founder, Esmé Page.

2023 500th guest -  at Solidarity Street sign in Mousehole - photo Cornwall Hugs.jpg
Guests at the Solidarity Street sign in Mousehole in 2023 (Picture: Cornwall Hugs)

“Remembering Grenfell is vital because this was an avoidable tragedy. And without remembrance and solidarity, there will be no reform. If we don’t support Grenfell United’s fight for justice and change, we will see more cladding fires - like the one in Valencia this year that killed 10 people.

“Learning from the mistakes is key and academics from Southhampton and Oxford Universities are now working on how to include Grenfell in educational settings. Thousands pass through Mousehole each year and we hope this little plaque plays its part to anchor that remembrance and that opportunity to learn, especially for the next generation.”

Bereaved survivor Hanan Wahabi whose daughter helped unveil the street sign in 2019 said of the new plaque: “My daughter Sara and I would like to thank the community in Mousehole for continuing to remember with us and our community. Remembering is key to ensuring that the 72 people who lost their lives are never forgotten and that lessons are learned.”

Survivors Hanan Wahabi and Sara Chebiouni in Mousehole - credit Chris Yacoubian
Survivors Hanan Wahabi and Sara Chebiouni in Mousehole (Picture: Chris Yacoubian)

Hanan, Sara (eight at the time of the fire) and family escaped from the ninth floor but they lost Hanan’s brother, his wife and three children, who lived on the 21st. Hanan now sits on the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission which is consulting with the community on the future of the tower.  

“This kind and heartfelt act of having a sign and plaque to remember our loved ones in a place where the people of Cornwall welcomed us soon after the tragedy, will forever form part of the Grenfell memorial. It ensures that visitors and future generations will know what happened and will be aware of the solidarity between our two communities; Cornwall and Kensington.”

Patch Harvey, Coxswain of the Penlee Lifeboat, was invited by Cornwall Hugs to join survivors unveiling the ‘Grenfell Street’ sign in August 2019.

2024 Mousehole Male Voice Choir members pay respects - Cornwall Hugs
Mousehole Male Voice Choir members pay respects on Grenfell Street (Picture: Cornwall Hugs)

He commented on the new plaque saying: “The Grenfell community is very dear to our hearts and we always enjoy welcoming Cornwall Hugs’ guests. At Penlee, we know just how important it is to remember and I’m glad that this little sign will help people do that for Grenfell.”

Cornwall Hugs work began with a Facebook post six days after the fire and the support from individuals and businesses has remained strong over seven years. Cornish church communities have played a key role and in the run up to the 7th anniversary, Bishop Hugh has issued a special prayer for them to use.

Esmé Page thanked the Diocese for its support: “The support of local churches has underpinned our work from the start. It’s a huge encouragement to know that seven years on, so many voices in Cornwall will be praying for the Grenfell families as they approach this very challenging time.” 

In London the Grenfell community will gather for a memorial service and for the evening Silent Walk. As at many previous anniversaries, Esmé will meet with families to take part and respects on behalf of over a 1,000 people in Cornwall who have welcomed them.