‘The whole city came together’: Inside the vigil held for Nottingham students after tragic deaths
‘What was taken from us will never be given back’
Thousands gathered yesterday for a vigil held on campus yesterday afternoon, following the tragic deaths of two University of Nottingham students.
The vigil took place at the Djanogly Terrace on campus where thousands of students, staff and members of the public joined the families as they remembered the two lives lost on Tuesday.
The sports teams which Barnaby and Grace were a part of at the university were dressed in their sports kit in honour of their memory.
Grant Walton introduced the ceremony by talking about how these are “moments we hope to never encounter but forces into our lives and leaves a trial of destruction that we could never imagine.”
Shearer West, Vice Chancellor of University of Nottingham, then spoke about the two students. She thanked those in attendance and welcomed the families and loved ones of Grace and Barnaby.
She said: “It is hard to find the words to express the shock and grief felt across our institution at the senseless loss and grief felt across our institution at the senseless loss of our two first year students who have had their bright futures curtailed by a seemingly random act of violence.
“Grace was a Medical student, thriving in her first year of study and inspired to a career in medicine by work placements in a GP surgery and her volunteering for the nationwide vaccination program during the Covid-19 pandemic. She was a talented sportswoman playing International Hockey for both the U16 and U18 England Hockey Team and Essex U15 Women’s Cricket. She was held in the highest regard by her tutors and team mates alike.
“Barnaby was a History Student, with a particular personal interest in geopolitics of both USA and China. His tutors recall his energy as a student and as fun, friendly and full of life in his seminars. He too was a sporting talent, playing hockey, rugby and cricket for his school and local clubs and excelling at sports at Nottingham. His role in the Combined Cadet forces also saw him exhibit his volunteering and leadership skills.
“The university is supporting Grace and Banarby’s families at this immensely difficult time, although I recognise that nothing will compensate for the loss of a cherished daughter and son.
“Against this backdrop of deep sadness and loss, I hope we can draw some comfort from the public reaction locally, nationally, and indeed globally to this dreadful crime. Nottingham is a wonderful and distinctive city and our University and civic communities are united both in our grief and in our knowledge that this terrible act is not what our city is about.”
University of Nottinghams Student’s Union Community Officer, Daisy Forster said how it was both “inspiring and heartbreaking” it was to see the support given.
She said: “Barney and Grace are a monumental loss. They were both first years with ambitions, potential and dreams. What was taken from us yesterday will never be given back, and the shockwaves echo through our student community.
“To the school of Medicine and department of history, I send my love and thoughts to all of your students and staff who have suffered the loss of two intelligent, enthusiastic and passionate students. To all of the friends and peers who lived with Grace and Barney or who would have done next year we are here to support you and we will continue to be here for you during your time at university and beyond.
“To the sports clubs who are the backbone of so many friendships and communities, you have lost two terrific players and two amazing friends and I am deeply, deeply sorry
“There is no way I could possibly list all the people affected by this tragedy both within and outside our campus which demonstrate how strong the bonds that hold our community are
“I would like to express my most heartfelt and sincere condolences, sympathy and solidarity to the families and closest friends of Grace and Barney. I cannot possibly comprehend the grief and pain that you must feel today but please remember there are 38,000 students standing behind you and as a university community we will always be here when you need us.”
A minute of silence was then observed after which students and staff were invited to lay flowers next to the fountain on Djanogly Terrace.
Grace and Barnaby’s fathers then both addressed the crowds.
Barnaby’s father, David Webber, started by describing how he “couldn’t comprehend” how he was going to get through life without his “baby boy.” He continued by saying: “I know Barnaby would be super touched by everyone thats here. He loved it here and couldn’t wait to come back. It drove me mad.
“His heart will be here forever.”
Taking the microphone with David Webber’s hand on his shoulder, Grace’s father, Sanjoy Kumar, said: “Everyone here I really, really want to thank you for your support, for taking the time to be here.
“I see a sea of people [which is] such a lovely sign of the university and the bond you have.
“Grace was also like Barnaby, she loved coming to Nottingham. In fact we couldn’t get her down.
“I said to her last week, ‘come down’ and she said ‘well, after she’s had a few more sessions.’ I used to call them her crisis meetings.
“The love that we have out here, I just wish we had it everywhere. So look after each other is the big thing.
“Look after your friends and look after people around you. It is so important.”
Students who attended the vigil said how “lovely it was that there was so many people there mourning together.” They continued to say how the deaths had “shaken the community.”
Another student noted how “the whole city came together in one place.”