Rev Julyan Drew Receives Inaugural Grenfell Community Hero Award
Still campaigning for Justice from His Hospice Bed
Rev Julyan Drew has been awarded the inaugural Grenfell Community Hero Award for his life-long service to the community of Penwith, Cornwall and beyond. The award was given by Grenfell United, the group of survivors of Grenfell Tower Fire and those bereaved by the tragedy, which killed 72 people on June 14 2017. It was presented to Rev Julyan Drew in his hospice in Cornwall on behalf of Grenfell United, by Esmé Page, founder of the charity Cornwall Hugs Grenfell, which brings those affected by the fire for respite holidays in Cornwall.
Grenfell United’s Grenfell Community Hero award was launched this year to celebrate local community heroes, whose lives exemplify exceptional community spirit and leadership in their own areas all over the UK. It was inspired by the outpouring of love and kindness from people all over the capital and further afield, which followed Grenfell Tower Fire: the positive legacy of Grenfell.
Rev Julyan Drew was greatly saddened by the fire in June 2017 and deeply angered by its apparent causes. Later, in May 2018, he met Grenfell Tower survivors in the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn, while they were on a respite holiday with Cornwall Hugs Grenfell. During the holiday, a memorial at sea for their loved ones was organised on board Penlee Lifeboat, of which Rev. Drew is Chaplain and he helped lead the acts of remembrance on board the Ivan Ellen.
This year, at the second anniversary of the fire, despite being, by then, critically ill with cancer, Rev Drew chose to use his ‘voice’ on social media to stand in solidarity and speak out against the injustice of the lack of change regarding housing safety regulation.
He explained his motivation in ‘going green’, ‘We’re two years on and it appeared that the people affected by this dreadful fire are no more being listened to now, than then. Behind my thoughts and actions often, is an Ionan song title, ‘Inspired by Love and Anger’. Both were present in this case and I wondered what I could do. I’d had the enormous privilege of meeting some of the Grenfell survivors in Newlyn and that connection remained. Stuck in my hospice bed, I was somewhat limited on what I could do. I could, however, put on a green hat and a Grenfell United T-shirt and post a photograph on social media. So I did. A small thing, but even small things can show we are not complicit in injustice, that we oppose it in whatever we way can. So I did my tiny bit and I hope that it will encourage others to speak and act, even if they think what they do can make no difference. Together we are stronger.’
The image of Julyan ‘gone Green for Grenfell’ in his hospice, spread rapidly across Twitter and Facebook and quickly caught the attention of the Grenfell Community in Kensington.
‘Julyan is the most wonderful example of a Servant Leader, that I can think of,’ says Esmé Page, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell. ‘He has always used his voice to speak words of comfort at times of sadness in our lives but he has also, always, been a campaigner - the strong voice of justice in our community, speaking up for the vulnerable and disadvantaged. This was such a ‘Julyan-thing’ to do, but I think both Cornwall and Kensington were stunned at Julyan’s courage and selflessness in taking this stand, when he himself is physically so vulnerable - a time when most people would be focussed on themselves.’
Sandra Ruiz from Grenfell United, the survivors and bereaved families group, said:
‘It is a pleasure to give Julyan our first ever Community Hero Award. In the days and weeks after the fire it was our community and volunteers from the across the country that came to help us. It gave us hope in the toughest of times and each year we want to remember the power and strength of community. Julyan embodies that spirit, looking out for your neighbour and taking care of each other. We want to thank him for all his kindness to Grenfell families that have visited Cornwall and his solidarity with our campaign for justice and change. He is so deserving of this award.’
‘No-one understands the value of community more than the people of Grenfell,’ said Esmé Page, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell. ‘Julyan knows this and was clearly deeply honoured to receive the award, saying it was better than a knighthood! It was the most precious and humbling moment to present it to him on Grenfell United’s behalf.’
Rev Drew commented on the moment he was presented the award in his hospice bed.’To start with I thought Esmé was talking about Cornwall Hugs Grenfell in general, so when it became apparent I was to be given this inaugural award, I was in complete shock,’ said Rev Julyan Drew, ‘It proved to me that there are no limits to love and compassion. If we want them to, they will tear down any barrier of race, religion, distance, whatever. ‘The taller you build your barrier, the louder I will sing,’ is a line that long been close to my heart and, that my small part in that ‘song’ was recognised and celebrated, was overwhelming. I hope it will encourage others. We shall overcome!’
Rev Drew’s roles in the community have been many. Central to his community involvement has always been the desire to make life better for children and the vulnerable. He served as Superintendent of the West Penwith Methodist Circuit and for 20 years until his recent illness, as Minister of various West Cornwall Chapels. Besides being Chaplain of the Penlee lifeboat, he has also served as Chaplain to the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, the Town Council and been chair of numerous local bodies, including as chair of the YMCA, The Newlyn Fish Industry Forum and the 3 Villages Project.
Community organisations and schools can nominate their own unsung local heroes to receive a Grenfell Community Hero Award. To find out more please follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/5YKJCV3. The Community Hero Award is part of the Green For Grenfell Day initiative which has been taking place all over the country and runs until June 28. Details can be found here: https://www.grenfellunited.org.uk/greenforgrenfell
Esmé Page via firstname.lastname@example.org 07803 594 285
Grenfell United: email@example.com
Rev Julyan Drew receiving his Grenfell Community Hero Award
Rev Julyan Drew gone Green For Grenfell
The Grenfell Community Hero Award badge
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Grenfell United is the group of survivors and bereaved families from the Grenfell Tower fire. They have come together to campaign for justice and change, and to make sure everyone is safe in their homes. www.grenfellunited.org
Cornwall Hugs Grenfell is part of Cornwall Hugs (#1177796) and was started by Esmé Page on June 20th 2017 with a Facebook post, ‘Imagine if we could put a Cornish holiday on the horizon of every Grenfell resident and firefighter family: a time to rest, a time to let our beautiful county bless these people and work its gentle magic.’ Since then 425 guests have come to Cornwall for respite through the project, including survivors, the bereaved, displaced neighbours and firefighters. The charity has received 300+ pledges of holiday accommodation and is supported by over 250 businesses as well as by individuals, choirs and churches throughout Cornwall and beyond.