Duke of Cambridge speaks about the Grenfell Tower disaster

Prince William decorates boxing club for Grenfell survivors

‘It was brutal and horrendous’: Prince William has an emotional meeting with Grenfell survivors as he joins DIY SOS to help decorate a new boxing club to replace one destroyed by the fire

  • EXCLUSIVE: Royal will appear on BBC’s DIY SOS for the Grenfell Tower special
  • Nick Knowles and the team built a boxing club and community centre
  • William, 36, visited the new site and joined in the volunteer team to help paint
  • He was filmed chatting with residents and encouraging youngsters to open up 
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The Duke of Cambridge has been helping to decorate a boxing club in Kensington to replace one destroyed by the Grenfell Tower fire alongside survivors for a DIY SOS special.

William, 36, joined crew members of the BBC programme and survivors in May this year as they worked towards replacing the club and building a new community centre.

In the BBC special set to air on Wednesday, the Prince makes an emotional speech about the scale of the tragedy, which killed 71 people, saying: ‘I think everyone has been shocked at how brutal and horrendous it all was.

He also addressed the dire situation of residents still stuck in hotels as temporary homes.

‘While people are living in hotels it’s very hard to get back to a normal life isn’t it?’ he said to one man who had lived on the 16th floor.

And meeting with a 14-year-old boy who lost a close friend, he encouraged him not to bottle up what he went through. 


Prince William visited the new community centre during the filming of DIY SOS in May this year. The team were rebuilding a boxing club being after it was destroyed by the fire in June last year


William joined forces with BBC’s Nick Knowles (left) and his team to lend a hand during the big build special and show his support of those affected by the Grenfell Tower


The royal took the time to speak with volunteers, some who trained youngsters at the boxing club and others who had been living in Grenfell Tower and were left without a home


During his visit this morning, the duke will meet the programme’s presenter Nick Knowles and the crew of workers, and join one of the volunteer teams as they begin the first day of the building’s fit-out

‘I’m sorry to hear that. Have you found it quite difficult afterwards?’ the royal asked the 14-year-old boy named Jodie.

‘Yeah I didn’t know how to cope with it. Boxing is the main aspect that takes my mind off it, I really enjoy it,’ the keen amateur replied.

Williams said: ‘It’s a horrible process to have to go through. You have got the right people around you and I hope you talk about it. 

‘You’ve got to talk about how much you miss your friends, that’s perfectly normal and keep boxing as well. I can see that twinkle in your eyes, you’re going to be good.’

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Prince William also shared a joke with presenter Nick Knowles about the royal’s previous visit to DIY SOS when he joined them in Manchester back in 2015.

The royal then reflected on Grenfell with Nick as they painted walls: ‘It’s been one of the worst disasters in modern time I think in this country. 

‘I think everyone is trying to play catch up with how do you deal with such a truly horrendous situation. 

‘But for the community they’re reliving it all the time. Progress needs to happen and the community coming together is the first part of fixing that. But there is still lot to do.’ 


Knowles and the DIY SOS team have been working on rebuilding the Dale Youth Boxing Club, which occupied the first floor of Grenfell Tower. Pictured, the blaze in June last year


Prince William joked with Nick Knowles that whenever the royal was on site the presenter was always roped into getting his hands dirty by painting walls 


Vital work: Westway Trust will ensure the spaces are accessible and affordable for the whole community. The main structural work is expected to be completed shortly


Prince William attended the first day of the fit out which saw volunteers come together to rebuild the boxing club as well as a community centre on the site

The Duke spoke with some of the residents of Grenfell Tower, one man Hamid lived on the 16th floor.

He spoke about trying to get back to a normal life through working with his community to get the boxing club up and running.

‘This is the only way people can come back from trauma is training,’ Hamid said.

William solemnly agreed: ‘It takes time sadly doesn’t it. While people are living in hotels it’s very hard to get back to a normal life isn’t it? 

He added encouragingly: ‘Well I hope to see you back here using it all.’

Clearly impressed with the work Nick and the team were doing William said: ‘I think it’s going to be fantastic, there are so many aspects of what this gym is going to do positively. 

‘It’s huge. I’m so proud, all of you. It’s not finished yet, but you should be so proud of what you’ve achieved.’ 

The first floor of the tower was home to the Dale Youth Amateur Boxing Club, which had a nationwide reputation for its work with young boxers, but since the fire it has been based in a temporary home in a car park.

The Duke met the programme’s presenter Nick Knowles and the crew of workers, and joined one of the volunteer teams as they begin the first day of the building’s fit-out.


Important cause: Working with the community and volunteers, DIY SOS built the space for the club and a new community centre, which will be available to use for a range of activities

In the two part special, Nick Knowles and the DIY SOS team attempt their biggest and longest build yet – constructing two brand new buildings for the Grenfell community on a 750 square metre site over several months to create spaces worth about £2 million.

In the first episode, with the aid of large construction companies, generous suppliers, volunteers and the Duke of Cambridge who visits the site, the team are building a new home for the Dale Youth Boxing Club, a west London success story.

The boxing club takes on anyone who wants to train and has been helping youngsters in the area for over 50 years with the discipline that boxing training brings. 

The club started the careers of James de Gale who won an Olympic gold medal in Beijing and George Groves, current WBA Super Middleweight champion as well as producing many national champions. Since 1999, the club was housed in Grenfell Tower. 

 


Major project: Knowles and the DIY SOS team spent months prepping the site at the Dale Youth Boxing Club, which occupied the first floor of Grenfell Tower. Working in steel a first for the show


 The Duke met the programme’s presenter Nick Knowles and the crew of workers, and joined one of the volunteer teams as they begin the first day of the building’s fit-out

A few months before the tragic fire which claimed 72 lives, the club moved into a newly refurbished space as part of the fateful fit out of the building. 

Since the fire, the club has been squatting temporarily in a gym in a disused car park as trainer Mick Delaney is determined to carry on for the young people that use the club. 

These include 14-year-old Jodie who says that boxing is helping him come to terms with the loss of a school friend in the fire.

Jodie and Mick meet the Duke on his visit to the site as he joins the build team and lends a hand with some undercoating, as he did on his previous visit to a DIY SOS site in Manchester building homes for veterans. 

This build was months in conception, planning, consultation with the community and was slated as a nine week build from the ground up. 

It provided many firsts for Nick and the team – the challenge of building under a motorway and using steel construction as well as becoming it’s longest and largest build. 

The fire at Grenfell Tower moved people across the country and thanks to the incredible generosity of building and engineering companies and suppliers and volunteers, Dale Youth Boxing club has a new secured home.  


The BBC One show, hosted by Nick Knowles, takes on major building projects for people and communities that need help, and is currently building a new community centre and replacing a boxing club that was destroyed by the fire. Pictured, Knowles on the new site


Remembered: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a Grenfell Tower memorial service, held at St. Paul’s Cathedral six months after the disaster


Prince William will join the crew of DIY SOS for a major project to support victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Pictured, William and Harry with presenter Nick Knowles on a visit to a 2015 DIY SOS project benefiting former Army servicemen and women in Manchester 

Working with the community and volunteers, DIY SOS is building the space for the club and a new community centre, which will be available to use for a range of activities. 

Westway Trust will ensure the spaces are accessible and affordable for the whole community. 

The main structural work is expected to be completed shortly. Prince William will attend the first day of the fit out. 

The Duke of Cambridge and his brother Prince Harry previously took part in a DIY SOS project benefiting ex-Army servicemen.

DIY SOS: Grenfell airs on Wednesday 5 September on BBC One at 9pm 

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE AND HOW MANY PEOPLE DIED?


The 24-storey Grenfell Tower block on fire in June 2017 

A blaze tore through the 24-storey Grenfell tower block in west London in the early hours of June 14, 2017 after a fire began on the kitchen of a fourth floor flat. 

The exterior of the tower in north Kensington was quickly engulfed in flames before consuming the interior of the block, with firefighters responding to a fire after it was reported at 00:54 BST (23:54 GMT).

The fire started in a Hotpoint fridge freezer on the fourth floor and was not deliberate.  

After official death toll figures were challenged in the emotionally-charged weeks after the fire, police said the final figure for the number of victims was 71, with more than 200 people managing to escape.

Police said there should have been 350 people in the block at the time of the fire, with 14 residents not home at the time. 

There were 120 homes in the tower block that were destroyed including more in the surrounding area. 

Around 200 firefighters were sent to fight the blaze and rescue those still trapped inside, with 65 people rescued. 

A public inquiry opened on September 14 into the cause and spread of the fire. 

Flammable cladding – installed on Grenfell Tower in a recent renovation – was slammed by experts who recently explained in the inquiry that it’s incorrect installation contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.


Around 200 firefighters were sent to fight the blaze and rescue those still trapped inside. Fire and rescue workers at a one minute silence by Grenfell Tower in west Londo in the days following the blaze

In a report five fire safety experts examined the fire and gave their views on how the fire started, how it spread and why so many people were killed.

Dr Barbara Lane, an expert commissioned by the Grenfell Tower inquiry, delivered an excoriating assessment of the refurbishment which finished a year before the fire.

The rainscreen cladding put on the building used material that did not meet fire safety standards, while the system as a whole was not capable of effectively preventing the inferno spreading, she found.

Another expert, Professor Luke Bisby, found a series of problems with refurbishment work carried out on Grenfell before the fire.

Prof Bisby said the main reason the fire spread was the polyethylene-filled ACM rainscreen in the cladding.

A public inquiry, led by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, is taking place , looking at the adequacy of regulations, the tower’s refurbishment and the response of the emergency services in the immediate aftermath. 

Hundreds of people are still without a home with many Grenfell residents living in hotels and temporary accommodation a year on. 

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