Grenfell Survivors and Cornish Hosts in a New Short Film
Bishops of Kensington and Truro Comment on
Inspiring Story of Community Sisterhood Across 300 Miles
The holiday respite charity, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell, is releasing a new film of thanks and reflection, ‘Two Communities, One Heart: Cornwall & Kensington Together’. In the film, Grenfell Tower Fire survivors, the bereaved and Cornish contributors tell the story of how two very different communities, 300 miles apart, have partnered since the fire in London, which claimed 72 lives on June 14, 2017. Over 480 of those affected have been welcomed by the Cornish people for respite and the film tells this extraordinary story in the words of those affected. It has been produced for Cornwall Hugs by MimiMedia and will be released via YouTube on Sunday 29th December.
In ‘Two Communities, One Heart’ Grenfell survivors and the bereaved reflect on their experiences with Cornwall Hugs, including the empathic resonance they feel with the local community through its experience of the Penlee lifeboat disaster in 1981. Cornish hosts comment on what they have learned in their time with the guests (See quotes below).
Four time BAFTA-winning film director, Ben Anthony, who won Best Factual Director for his 90 minute film, ‘Grenfell’, comments on the film,‘This film beautifully and movingly captures the compassion and connection between two communities which may be miles apart but are of one heart. It shows how truly valuable work can be done and what great things can be achieved when we are prepared to recognise the things that really matter in life - love, fellowship, unity and humanity.’
‘While many people across the country were deeply affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell turned that into action,’ said Rt Rvd Dr Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington. ‘It has blessed both communities – around Grenfell and in Cornwall – in remarkable and inspiring ways. It's an amazing story of compassion, determination and the bonds of friendship that can be formed out of tragedy and it is wonderful to see it told so powerfully in this short but moving film.’
The Rt Rvd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, reflected, ‘Few things have made me prouder in my first year as Bishop of Truro than Cornwall Hugs Grenfell. This little film expresses so well what Cornwall is, at its best: a big-hearted, generous, hospitable place. Cornwall Hugs has brought out the very best in us and I thank God for it.’
‘This film shows how the community spirit that is so strong in Cornwall reaches out far beyond our borders,’ said Colonel E T Bolitho OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, ‘It makes me feel really proud of Cornwall and all those brilliant people who have given so much to help Grenfell’
‘As we end a year of apparent division in our society, the sisterhood of our two communities across 300 miles is a powerful story of unity and one we wanted to tell!’ said Esmé Page, founder, Cornwall Hugs Grenfell, ‘We hope it will inspire other communities to reach out to each other in times of distress. The film is a both a thank you to the thousands involved and is an affirmation of our continued solidarity with Grenfell United as they continue to fight for fire-safe housing for all.’
Grenfell Guests and Cornish Contributors’ speak in ‘Two Communities, One Heart’
‘We were abandoned after what happened. No-one came for us, we were just left on the streets,’ says survivor, Edward Daffarn, ‘And I’d just like to say that is is projects like this, that put a counter-narrative to that and show that some good and some love and some hope can come out of that what happened to us.’
The film touches on the empathic resonance that Grenfell survivors have felt on visits to the Penlee Lifeboat, with the station’s experience of tragedy at the heart of the small community, through the Penlee Lifeboat disaster in 1981. On 19th December, 1981, the Solomon Browne lifeboat was lost with all eight crew as she went to the rescue of the Union Star and local families found themselves grieving in the public eye. ‘The fact that this community had been through something like what we’d been through, feels, in a very unspoken way, that we have a link,’ commented Grenfell survivor, Edward Daffarn. Patch Harvey, coxswain of Penlee lifeboat said, ‘We have formed a special relationship with the families and firefighters through Cornwall Hugs, and we very much look forward to seeing them again soon.'
Cornish contributors to Cornwall Hugs Grenfell reflect on how the project has affected them. Patrick McWiliam, Art therapist is shown leading sculpting workshops with Grenfell survivors. He comments, ‘The courage I’ve witnessed, from older folk, teenagers and little guys, is a credit and an inspiration to all of us. It’s changed me, it’s changed how I view adversity.’
The youngest Cornish contributor in the film is 13 year old Oliver Thorpe who represents hundreds of Cornish children who have been directly involved in welcoming the guests. He shares his experience as a chorister of Truro Cathedral Choir, recording the charity’s song of solidarity, ‘Grenfell From Today’ by Philip Stopford, which reached no 2 on iTunes classic songs in June 2018. ‘You never feel you can take action, because you’re so young and there’s nothing you can really do, so it was good to feel you could make a difference, however small it was.’
The film ends with Karim Mussilhy, Vice Chairman of Grenfell United, giving a heart-felt reminder of the work of the survivors’ and bereaved action group as they fight for the removal of flammable cladding, installation of sprinters and other safety measures in tower blocks throughout the country, ‘What we can do is campaign and fight, so no one else has to go through what we went through. No one should lose their lives the way our loved ones lost their lives.’
Filming and the ‘Grenfell Street 💚’sign in Mousehole at Christmas
The film is produced by a young Cornish video-grapher, Mia Rumble, MimiMedia and shot on location in Cornwall and Kensington. ‘Watching these two communities come together and creating this film has been a beautiful experience,’ reflected Mia.
Some footage is from panel discussions at the charity’s celebration event Kernow & Kensington Together in August 2019 in Mousehole. This followed the unveiling by survivors and bereaved of a special ‘Grenfell Street 💚’sign in the 500 year old fishing village. The sign is currently lit green in solidarity at Christmas and viewed by the thousands for visitors to the famous Mousehole Christmas Lights.
Esmé Page via email@example.com 07803 594 285
Cornwall Hugs Grenfell is part of Cornwall Hugs (#1177796) and was begun 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 over 480 guests have come to Cornwall for respite through the project, including survivors, the bereaved, displaced neighbours and firefighters. 1000’s of Cornish people have been involved. The charity 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. www.cornwallhugsgrenfell.org
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
Mia Rumble, MimiMedia
Mia Rumble is a young Cornish videographer and photographer. Mia has lived in Cornwall all her life and started making films six years ago. She tells the stories of charities and people trying to make a positive difference in the world.