Notting Hill Carnival 2017: Doves released in poignant moment of remembrance for Grenfell Tower victims

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Doves have been released at the opening Notting Hill Carnival in memory of those killed in the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Multi-faith leaders from across the capital including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan freed the birds into a glorious blue sky as a horn sounded amid prayers for peace over the party weekend.

A community leader called for “peace in Notting Hill” and proclaimed “Grenfell reunited” as the doves flew off.

She said: “This is for Grenfell and everybody present at carnival. 

Moving moment: Sadiq Khan joins faith leaders as doves are released at the opening of Notting Hill Carnival (PA)

“Everybody alive, dead, let’s all have a great time and in peace. Let’s release these doves in the name of peace. Let’s pray for peace in Notting Hill.

“Grenfell reunited. Amen.”

Bridge over Troubled Water opens Notting Hill Carnival

The two-day west London festival began on Sunday morning with prayers from multi-faith leaders.

Crowds were moved by a powerful performance of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by a singer dressed in “green for Grenfell” – one of the themes suggested for revellers attending this year’s event.

Condolences: Sadiq Khan meets relatives of people that died in Grenfell Tower at Notting Hill Carnival (REUTERS)

Many stood with their heads bowed, while others remarked on the “beautiful” and “poetic” rendition.

Community leaders said in the run up to the event, which is attended by millions every year, that it would provide an “opportunity to heal” for those affected by the devastating inferno.

Chair of the carnival trust Pepe Francis said he hoped the festivities would “lift the spirits of people”. 

Paper hearts adorning a fence in Kensington, near the burnt-out remains of Grenfell Tower in London. (AFP/Getty Images)

Asked how members of the Grenfell community he had spoken to felt about the event, he said: “They just want carnival to go ahead as normal.

“Obviously there’s varying views, some people feel it shouldn’t. But the majority feel it should, and it should be one of the best carnivals. 

“I think, because of Grenfell, I would like to see carnival this year one of the most successful ones ever, because I think it will pay a lot of tribute to what a festival like this can do to ease the minds of the people (who are) the victims.”

Police officers will form a “ring of care” around the burnt out husk of the 24-storey building while a reflection zone will be set up near the blacked high rise. 

Hundreds of hand-drawn tributes, candles and flowers will be protected by fencing while the NHS will provide “mental health first aid” for those affected.

Posters have been put up at spots where the tower can be seen, asking the public not to take photographs “at the site of our great loss” – an activity which has distressed locals.

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