Mother tells of guilt at nagging daughter to move into Grenfell flat

Mother tells of her guilt at nagging her daughter to move into Grenfell flat where she was killed while husband remembers blaze tragedy’s ‘unique, beautiful, exceptional’ 72nd victim

  • Mother of victim tells of guilt after urging her daughter to move to the block   
  • Deborah Lamprell, 45, was described as always having a smile on her face 
  • Hearing also heard from the husband of Maria del Pilar Burton on second day
  • She is now considered to be the 72nd victim of the fire after she died in January

The mother of a Grenfell Tower victim has told of her guilt after encouraging her to move to the council block where she lost her life.

Deborah Lamprell, who was described as always having a smile on her face, perished in the horror blaze that claimed 72 lives.

A tribute to the 45-year-old was read out during the second day of the official inquiry into the tragedy. 

The hearing also heard from the husband of Maria del Pilar Burton, now considered to be the 72nd victim of the fire, who deteriorated badly in health following the blaze.

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Deborah Lamprell (left) who was described as always having a smile on her face, perished in the horror blaze along with Maria del Pilar Burton. Tributes were paid to them at the inquiry into the tragedy today

Her husband Nicholas Burton said his wife, who had dementia, never recovered from the trauma of losing her home and her possessions, and died on January 29. 

Ms Lamprell’s mother Miriam, 79, said ‘nothing seems worth it any more’ in a statement read out by her colleague at Opera Holland Park, Michael Volpe, where she worked front of house.

Ms Lamprell, known as Debbie, moved out of the family home as a young professional to be nearer her work in west London, her mother said, adding she was concerned about the bedsits she was living in.

Her mother said: ‘The conditions weren’t good and I used to badger her to put her name down with the council to get her somewhere proper to live, somewhere safe and decent.

‘Of course it feels terrible to have done that now because she was given the flat in Grenfell.’

Nicholas Burton, Maria del Pilar Burton’s husband of 34 years (pictured together) remembered his wife with warmth and humour

She said her daughter had found refurbishment of the flat a ‘nightmare’, experiencing problems with electricity and the boiler.

‘I used to think, at least when I go she’s got a roof over her head,’ she added.

The night she died she sent a text to say she was safe at home, her mother said, which read: ‘I’ve got in mum, all’s well, goodnight, god bless.’

She continued: ‘I thought ‘that’s ok she’s safe’.

‘I went to bed and I got up in the morning and I didn’t have a daughter.’

She added: ‘I am bereft without her. If she had died a normal death I would have been able to hold her and comfort her and say goodbye, but I feel a part of me has been ripped out. Nothing seems worth it anymore.’

Michael Volpe, an Opera Holland Park colleague of Grenfell victim Deborah Lamprell reads a statement to the enquiry from her mother Miriam

Miriam, a retired dinner lady at a school for disabled children, recalled her daughter was a popular child who brought together kids from local estates and private homes and never wanted to stop playing.

Her and her husband would often take her to the ballet, theatre and museums, and she was a keen snooker player in her younger years.

As she grew up, she continued to love being around people and lived a life that was ‘happy and fulfilled’.

She said: ‘She really loved her work, she was really, really happy with her life.

Two weeks of tributes from family and friends remembering Grenfell Tower fire victims will be heard by the public inquiry into the disaster as its first phase gets under way

‘You rarely saw my Debbie without a smile. People took to Debbie because she was a friendly, easy person.’

After her daughter had moved out, Ms Lamprell recalled she would visit every Saturday and bring her mother two scratch cards.

But her daughter would caveat the gift by saying: ‘We don’t need money, we are so lucky with what we have got.’

The tribute ended with footage of Ms Lamprell’s colleagues observing a moment of silence in memory of ‘our beautiful friend’ at a memorial service, before an arrangement of Amazing Grace sung by a choir reduced many to tears.

An inscribed stone has been laid at the spot where Ms Lamprell would sit and listen to the OHP performances in her memory. 

Ms Pilar Burton, 74, know as Pily was diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and suffered great distress after her home was incinerated on June 14 last year.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick opens the Grenfell Tower inquiry with 72 seconds of silence 

Nicholas Burton, her husband of 34 years, remembered his wife with warmth and humour on the second day of the inquiry. But, he said, the fire changed everything.

He told the hearing: ‘The trauma had a terrible effect on Pily’s dementia. She was very distressed. 

‘How do you explain what had happened to a person in her condition? That our house had gone. Our dog had gone. Our good friends and neighbours may have passed and many friends were missing. 

‘That her parents’ ashes which we had kept in the flat had gone.

‘Everything was gone. It was just too much so I just had to try to explain with little bits of information to guide her through the trauma.’

Mr Burton too was forced to undergo life-saving surgery in the wake of the fire due to an enlarged heart. His wife’s condition had worsened by the time he emerged and she suffered a stroke in January. She never recovered and died on January 29.

‘She was a unique, beautiful, exceptional person until this tragedy had taken it away. It took away her dignity and everything we had in this world. And let me tell you, no matter what indignities my wife had to suffer, my Pily was perfect.’

Before Mr Burton gave his tribute, the reason for his wife’s inclusion in the list was explained by counsel to the inquiry Bernard Richmond QC.

He told chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick: ‘Sir, as you know, there were many victims of the Grenfell fire. The 71 who lost their lives as a direct result of the fire, their loved ones, those who were injured, those who lost their homes and their communities.

‘The next commemoration is for Pily Burton, who died, sadly, in January of this year. She was a vibrant and much-loved member of the Grenfell community and we are pleased and honoured to commemorate her life alongside those of her fellow residents from a community that she and her husband Nicholas, who will present the commemoration, both loved.’

The commemorative hearings began on Monday morning with a 72-second silence for each victim.

Harrowing tributes were heard for a stillborn baby who died after his mother escaped the blaze, and a beloved father who was a hero and role model.

Retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, chairman of the inquiry, thanked the families for their moving tributes at the end of the day, saying: ‘They are extremely impressive presentations and they bring to life again the people that you are commemorating and I’m very grateful to have had a chance to see and hear them.’

The hearings are taking place at the South Kensington hotel as it is closer to the Grenfell community.

The rest of phase one of the inquiry will take place at Holborn Bars in central London, where several procedural hearings have already taken place.    

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