On Friday evening we gathered in Hermitage memorial gardens to celebrate the memory of Jo.
We were joined in speeches by John Biggs (Mayor of Tower Hamlets), Jim Fitzpatrick (MP for Poplar and Limehouse), Rushanara Ali (MP for Bethnal Green and Bow), Abdal Ullah (local resident & secretary of Wapping Bangladeshi Association & Wapping Mosque), Norwaz Choudhury (Chair of Wapping Bangladeshi Association) and Denise Jones (Tower Hamlets councillor).
A group of local people joined us around the rose garden for a candle lit vigil, which contains roses from the ‘Yorkshire Rose’ small boat that was moored outside the House of Commons last year.
Below is a copy of the speech delivered by resident, member and current Chairman of Hermitage Moorings, Gavin Starks, on behalf of the coop.
“Today we celebrate the memory of Jo.
Our dear friend, lost in the most tragic and outrageous of circumstances.
We pay tribute to a wonderful and spirited member of our community,
Someone who believed in love and friendship,
And who believed that we all have more in common.
Our community has continued to be inspired by her legacy, and by her husband Brendan, and their two wonderful children — who continue to be part of our small community here on the river. We are here to support them all now, and we are here to support them into the future.
Over the last year, Brendan has spoken frequently about changing the narrative of division in the UK.
Our community strongly supports this message.
Our tiny community has 19 boats: as 19 households we face our differences on a day-to-day basis—and we celebrate the things we have in common. It is easy for the differences between us to dominate our discourse and our activity. So much more so in the little island of Wapping: a community of 12,000.
We believe this community, this city, and this country represent a remarkable mixture of cultures and opinions, and that one of our defining features is that we operate in an open democracy: where many voices and opinions can be heard; where we listen and try to understand; where we balance the needs of the many with the needs of the few; where tolerance and inclusion has helped us achieve remarkable things together.
Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
We are all united against the hatred.
This weekend we will look to connect in new ways, and to make many new friends here, along with 100,000s across the country, with the great get together. It is a remarkable statement of unity.
It is a time to celebrate our humanity and our compassion in a troubled world.
After we finish here we will sound our horns on the moorings, as we will tomorrow and on Sunday at 6:30, to ripple our voice across the city.
We invite you to join us just after this for some tea and cake.”