Our regular columnist and Nottingham East MP reflects on the loss of Grace O’Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates...
Last month’s tragic events left the whole of Nottingham shaken and devastated. On Tuesday 13 June, our city was shocked to learn that three lives had been cut short, and a further three people hospitalised, by a series of violent attacks at the crack of dawn.
Nottingham lost three beautiful, talented and cherished members of our community. From the tributes we heard from their families and friends, it’s clear that Grace O’Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates were loved by many, and are dearly missed.
Ian was a loving dad and a school caretaker just months away from retirement, as well as a keen fisherman and a dedicated Forest fan. He was known for his kindness and selflessness, and would take underprivileged kids fishing to keep them away from crime.
Grace was a medical student who dreamed of serving her community as a doctor. She had previously volunteered for the Covid vaccination programme, while also playing hockey for the England under-18 squad. Her brother James described her as “not just a sister, but a best friend”.
Barnaby studied history, had a passion for aeroplanes and loved playing cricket as part of the university team. Like Grace, he adored his younger brother Charlie, was hugely enjoying his time in Nottingham and had a bright future to look forward to. A future that was so cruelly taken away from him.
No words can express the enormity of this loss, or fill the hole left in the hearts of their loved ones. Barnaby, Grace and Ian should be with us today, continuing to pursue their passions and to bring joy to those around them. Instead all that’s left is memories of three lives well lived.
It was incredibly touching to attend the vigils that took place in the days following the attacks, and see our city come together in mourning. In particular, it was impossible not to be moved by the speeches of the victims’ families. It speaks volumes about their character that, even in their grief, the bereaved relatives thought about the impact that those terrible events could have on others. “Look after each other,” said Grace’s father Sanjoy Kumar. "Please hold no hate that relates to any colour, sex or religion,” asked Barnaby’s mother Emma Webber.
It’s vital that we stick together, support one another and remind each other of the kindness and compassion that humanity is capable of.
We must remember this powerful message, and resist anyone trying to exploit this tragedy to divide us. Nottingham is a wonderfully diverse place, where people of so many different backgrounds live and work together every day. It’s something to be proud of that our city, with its world-class universities, its rich history and culture and unparalleled sense of community, attracts people from all around the globe. In recent weeks, we’ve seen thousands of Nottingham residents of all nationalities, faiths and walks of life unite in mourning.
Those who seek to harm others are in a tiny minority here, and so are those who try to spread fear and hate. This is not, and will never be, what Nottingham is about.
In the hundreds of messages I received that week, constituents expressed the emotions we all felt upon reading the news: shock, sadness, anger and confusion. It will take time for our city to process what happened and heal. While the police investigation should tell us more about what led to the attacks, we might never be able to fully comprehend the senselessness of these acts of violence. But more than ever, it’s vital that we stick together, support one another and remind each other of the kindness and compassion that humanity is capable of.
We will always remember Barnaby, Ian and Grace, their warm smiles and the mark they left on Nottingham. May they rest in peace.
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