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World News

'Hold no hate in your heart' - families' grace-filled response to Nottingham tragedy

by Donna Birrell

The families of the three people killed in the Nottingham attacks this week have delivered grace-filled addresses at vigils in front of hundreds of people.

19-year-old students Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber and 65-year-old school caretaker Ian Coates were stabbed to death in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Barnaby’s mother, Emma Webber, told a crowd in the city centre that while the killer was, "a monstrous person…He is just a person. Please hold no hate to any race, colour, sex or religion in your heart."

Grace’s father Dr Sanjoy Kumar also said : "Imagine a world of just love and no violence. Just imagine that world."

The sons of Ian Coates said they had been touched by "heart-warming and beautiful comments" about their father and would do anything to support the other grieving families. 

Rev Cassius Francis is a Church Trainer and Resourcer for Loss and Hope, which is part of the bereavement charity At A Loss.  Speaking to Premier he said he was impressed by the bravery being shown by the families: “As Christian ministers, we will always preach about loving our enemy and loving our neighbours, but we will rarely be faced with a situation similar to what these families are going through. And I did think that they showed tremendous courage to be able to speak in the way that they did.

“I was particularly struck by the words of Barnaby’s mum. I think at a time when you are having to process something that is so difficult to come to terms with, to show the composure not just to write something but to stand in front of thousands of people to share that, shows tremendous courage. It certainly gave me time to pause as well and reflect about the importance of the messages that we're able to communicate at times like this.

“I don't know the faith backgrounds of the families, but I was reminded of the scripture in Psalm 61 when I heard the events. It says, ‘Hear My Cry Lord, attend to my prayer.’ And those words for me reflect the fact that...even if  people don't feel as if they have the right words or perhaps if you don't have a faith and you just feel at this time that you would like to pray... God hears your heart cry. And I think it's important for people to know that that's the God that I serve.

“I thought a really clear message came through yesterday - people of all backgrounds  standing together. There will be difficult times ahead. We have funerals to come and there will be a court case to come. For the families at the centre of this, each time they will have to revisit the events of the deaths of their loved ones. And so I think those messages around justice and around love are really important.”

The 31-year-old suspect, Valdo Calocane is believed to come from a devout Christian family living in Wales. He is an engineering graduate from the same university as the two students who died and his parents are said to be regular worshippers at their local church.  A message of support on the church’s Facebook page asks for prayers for those affected by the attacks. It read: "Do keep them in prayer to know God's comfort now and the only true hope of eternal life Jesus Christ."


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