Richard Taylor: Service held for Damilola's campaigning father

Richard Taylor looks into the camera while sitting down
Richard Taylor was appointed OBE in 2012 for his crusading work against violent crime [PA Media]

A service has been held at Southwark Cathedral for Richard Taylor, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola.

Damilola was 10 when he was stabbed in the leg and left to die in a south London stairwell in November 2000.

Mr Taylor, who founded the Damilola Taylor Trust to campaign against knife crime, died from prostate cancer in March aged 75.

Home Secretary James Cleverly was among more than 600 people who attended the memorial service.

Dame Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, and Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley were also at Southwark Cathedral.

Nigerian-born Mr Taylor, a former civil servant, dedicated years to improving the lives of disadvantaged children after his son's death.

Damilola Taylor
Damilola Taylor was 10 when he was stabbed in the leg and left to die in a stairwell in Peckham [PA Media]

Speaking after the service, Mr Cleverly said Mr Taylor's legacy "lives on through the Damilola Taylor Trust".

"Sadly, violent crime - murder - on the streets of London hasn't gone away," he said.

"We have to be constantly vigilant and we have to work on these things all the time."

A Choir singing inside Southwark Cathedral during the memorial service
More than 600 people attended the memorial service at Southwark Cathedral [BBC]

He added: "When you see a young life lost and think through all the opportunities they might have had in front of them... it's particularly painful."

Mr Cleverly also paid tribute to "the work of people like Richard and other families who turn their grief into something positive", adding that he wanted to "quietly say thank you and pay my respects".

Home Secretary James Cleverly speaking a reporter after the service
James Cleverly said he attended the service to "quietly say thank you and pay my respects" [BBC]

Before the service, the Damilola Taylor Trust announced the appointment of Tunde Taylor - Mr Taylor's son - as the new chair of the board of trustees. He will also take over as its leader.

He described the service as "a very soul-lifting and amazing" experience, saying his father would "be proud that we've been able to put this together in his honour".

"I had loads of people who've come back with the same message of how he's inspired them to be better and to achieve greater things, and of the legacy of what he's left behind," he said.

Mr Taylor added that the trust intended to continue its work, and was holding meetings to "refresh" its strategy and focus on future opportunities, including collaborating with other charities.

Richard Taylor's son Tunde Taylor looking at a reporter behind the camera outside Southwark Cathedral
Tunde Taylor says many people have told him his father "inspired them to be better and to achieve greater things" [BBC]

Met Police chief Sir Mark said the service was "a fantastic celebration of his life and the way he turned pain into hope", which "really captured the spirit of Richard Taylor".

"He was such a force for good in the community, it was a real privilege to know him," Sir Mark said.

He added he remembered when he met Mr Taylor at an event last year the campaigner "spoke passionately... about the idea that unless police and communities work together, the only people who win are criminals".

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