The perfect summer party – under the sad shadow of Grenfell Tower

This picture, taken before the party began, with Romanos Brihi, Frances Manthos, James O’Neill and Caroline Cuffe manning the drinks marquees, will have to act as a trigger for the 120 guests’ built-in memory cameras, as no-one on the committee remembered to take any pictures during the party…

Finally, after several years of rather rainy and cool summer parties that were held in May as the vicar’s garden is so heavily booked during the summer months, this year we managed to get a slot in June and were blessed with perfect summer weather. However, that slot was 14 June, so we all woke up with the horrific news about the disastrous fire that had ravaged Grenfell Tower during the night. After a quick email discussion, the members of the CTRAA committee decided to go ahead with the party, as it would also give our members a chance to get together and reflect over what had happened.

Some 120 members showed up, and were treated to a jazz band, lovely tidbits and wonderful wine. The party began with a silent minute for the victims of the fire (at the time, the known death toll was just a fraction of what it is now), and councillors Tim Ahern and Robert Freeman, who made a brief visit before rushing back to Town Hall, gave some words of condolence and encouraged everyone to give contributions to the Grenfell Tower Appeal, hastily set up by the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation.

Our kind host, the Reverend Prebendary Gillian Craig, was not able to be with us as he was busy helping out at the ClementJames Centre, the local charity affiliated to St Clement Church, just 200 metres from Grenfell Tower.

The event was generously sponsored by Knight Frank, who turned up in force, with the wine supplied at cost by Tuggy Meyer’s Huntsworth Wine.

Those wanting to help the hundreds of homeless after the Grenfell Tower disaster are encouraged to pay what they can via one of the following funds or donation pages:

On Friday 16 June, the K&C Foundation released a first £100,000 to the five organisations at the frontline (Rugby Portobello Trust, ClementJames Centre, Venture Community Association, The Harrow Club and Westway Trust), who then immediately began to pass on that money as immediate relief to the survivors from Grenfell Tower, to help them pay for food, transport and other things during the coming weeks.

If you want to lend a hand in the support effort, please register your interest by emailing grenfellvolunteers@rbkc.gov.uk, including your name, contact number and availability.

A book of condolence has been opened at Kensington Town Hall. The council will also open a book of condolence nearer to the site of the fire as soon as that can be done without impeding the work of the emergency services.