Richard Taylor obituary

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Richard Taylor, who has died aged 75 after affected by prostate most cancers, spent greater than 20 years guaranteeing that one thing optimistic might emerge from the deadly stabbing of his 10-year-old son Damilola.

When visiting the stairwell on an property in Peckham, south London, the place Damilola was stabbed within the leg with a damaged bottle and left to bleed to loss of life in November 2000, Taylor visibly shook with grief.

Over the next years, it was the persevering with energy of that loss which drove Taylor and his spouse, Gloria, to work with detectives to carry Damilola’s younger killers to justice, throughout police investigations stretching over six years, and three crown court docket trials. However for Taylor, it was by no means nearly discovering these answerable for taking the lifetime of his youngster.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Taylor travelled to Britain for his research at Harrow Polytechnic and married his girlfriend Gloria Fayemi in Kensington in 1977, settling in Uxbridge, the place their youngsters Gbemi and Tunde have been born, earlier than returning to Lagos in 1982, the place he labored for the defence ministry. Damilola, the Taylors’ third youngster, was born there in 1989.

In 2000 Damilola flew to London along with his mom and siblings, to hunt remedy for his sister Gbemi’s extreme epilepsy, whereas Richard stayed working in Abuja.

It was as he walked dwelling from an after-school laptop class at Peckham library that Damilola was accosted by two youngsters, and slashed within the thigh with a damaged bottle, severing his femoral artery.

Thrust into the media highlight, after the killing, Taylor exhibited dedication, dignity and style in serving to the police in appeals to seek out his son’s killer. Furthermore, his efforts helped shine a light-weight on the impoverishment, drawback and worry that drove many younger folks into the grip of knife crime in inner-city areas like south London.

There was no barrier of politics, class, wealth or superstar that his attraction, humanity and sense of humour couldn’t breach. Within the years after his son’s homicide, Taylor shook the palms of royalty, prime ministers, senior civil servants, police chiefs, footballers and movie stars in his quest to present younger folks the hope and help wanted to stay lives with out violence.

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Damilola Taylor was murdered on the age of 10 in November 2000. {Photograph}: PA

With the help of the footballer Rio Ferdinand, who had grown up in Peckham, Taylor fashioned the Damilola Taylor Belief a yr after his son’s loss of life. In a tribute to his son’s dream of turning into a physician, the belief provided medical scholarships for college students from poor backgrounds and in addition went on to supply tasks to assist younger folks susceptible to gang and knife crime. In 2002 the pair began the Damilola Taylor Centre, offering sports activities and group services.

Early on the belief fashioned a partnership with King’s Faculty London, which led to the opening of the Damilola Taylor Room, to supply a examine space for medical college students from disadvantaged areas of London.

With Ferdinand, Taylor launched a marketing campaign for younger folks, Respect Your Life Not a Knife, in 2006, with the help of the London mayor Ken Livingstone, the house secretary John Reid and the Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair.

Gloria died in 2008, however Taylor continued his passionate mission to supply help for deprived younger folks by means of mentoring and youth companies in London.

Collaborating within the folks’s march towards knife crime later in 2008, Taylor was a focus for all these households who had misplaced kinfolk to knife violence. Brooke Kinsella, whose brother Ben was fatally stabbed in June 2008, stated it was Taylor’s braveness within the face of unimaginable grief that was her inspiration. “I’ll always remember the highly effective second in the course of the peace march when, strolling from reverse ends of London, our paths crossed in Piccadilly. We instinctively embraced; that single second symbolised the unyielding solidarity of our motion and our shared mission to forestall violence.”

In 2009, Taylor was appointed by Gordon Brown, the prime minister, as a particular envoy on youth violence and knife crime, whereas the Damilola Taylor Belief launched the Spirit of London awards, often called the youth Oscars, to have fun the skills of younger folks.

Twenty years on from his son’s loss of life, Taylor’s dedication and tireless perception in supporting younger folks led to the creation of the Hope Collective. At a time when youth companies had been devastated by greater than a decade of presidency austerity insurance policies, the collective was fashioned to create a community of communities throughout Britain, to present younger folks a strong voice, and to affect policy-making to seek out options to knife crime.

Imagining his son as a 20-year-old, Taylor stated his reminiscences of Damilola have been nonetheless vivid and the ache was nonetheless uncooked. However the belief, he stated, would shine a light-weight for others on the form of optimistic younger individual his son was turning into earlier than his life was taken. “That is how I would really like him to be remembered,” he stated. “As our boy of hope.”

In 2011 he was made OBE for his efforts to deal with violent crime.

Harriet Harman, the veteran Labour MP for Peckham and Camberwell, stated Taylor had by no means stopped combating for different youngsters to have the probabilities that Damilola was by no means in a position to see.

Taylor is survived by Tunde and Gbemi, and by one other daughter, Florence.

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