03 March 2022

Hundreds of Londoners hold vigil for Sarah Everard one year after abduction

03 March 2022

Hundreds of Londoners have held a sombre candle-lit vigil to remember Sarah Everard on the anniversary of her abduction.

A crowd of mainly young women and men marched through south London before laying flowers at Clapham Common bandstand, close to where the 33-year-old was kidnapped by a serving Metropolitan Police officer last year.

Two police officers also carried flowers to the scene, which became a focal point for thousands of tributes to Ms Everard last spring.

Organiser Talisker Cornford, of the campaign group Urban Angels, cried as she read a poem about women’s safety before mourners held a short silence for Ms Everard in the darkness.

A similar tribute was also staged outside Kelvingrove Art Gallery in central Glasgow.

Mourners march through Clapham Common in south London in tribute to Sarah Everard (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Another organiser from Urban Angels, Madison Hall, 25, told the PA news agency she hoped the event would bring people together.

Miss Hall, who lives in nearby Stockwell and works in finance, said: “The purpose of the event is to give the community an opportunity to come together to commemorate all victims of gendered violence and also pay respect to and remember those women that have lost their lives.”

Reflecting on Ms Everard’s abduction last year, she added: “It’s been quite overwhelming to be honest.

“It has been weird seeing somewhere that you live as a dangerous place to live.”

Flatmates Shae Bampfield, 33, and Claudia Dodd, 26, attended the vigil and reflected on their own experiences in the area.

A person lights a candle at Clapham Common in south London, following a march to mark the first anniversary of the murder of Sarah Everard (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Ms Bampfield, who is from Australia and lives in Clapham, said: “For me, I’ve had close calls.

“It was over lockdown, I was walking home and this man asked me a question, I engaged with him, which I shouldn’t have and then he started following me.

“I said don’t follow me, and ended up running.

“I made a police report but there were no cameras so it couldn’t go anywhere.

“It just really hits home how unsafe it can be on the streets for women at any time.”

When asked what changes she would like to see being made to women’s safety, she said: “We think misogyny needs to be a hate crime”.

Ms Dodd, from New Zealand, added: “I think as a young woman living in Clapham it’s resonating hugely with us.

“We don’t want to ever forget what happened to Sarah.”

Urban Angels organisers lead a march to Clapham Common in remembrance of Sarah Everard (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Kayli Free, 30, who laid a candle “for Sarah’s mum” with her husband Dan Free, 32, said: “I think about Sarah a lot which might be weird because we didn’t know each other.

“I can’t imagine how her mum must be feeling, and I wanted to remember her too.”

Earlier on Thursday, Ms Everard’s family said they had been “overwhelmed with the kindness” from the public in a statement released via the Metropolitan Police.

They said: “It is a year since Sarah died and we remember her today, as every day, with all our love.

“Our lives have changed forever and we live with the sadness of our loss.

“Sarah was wonderful and we miss her all the time.

“Over the past year we have been overwhelmed with the kindness shown to us, not just by family and friends, but by the wider public.

“We are immensely grateful to everyone for their support, it has meant such a lot to us and has comforted us through this terrible time.

“Sadly, Sarah is not the only woman to have lost her life recently in violent circumstances and we would like to extend our deepest sympathy to other families who are also grieving.”

The candle left at Clapham Common bandstand for Sarah Everard’s family from local resident Kayli Lee (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, London mayor Sadiq Khan and the Met also released statements paying tribute to Ms Everard to mark one year since her disappearance.

Ms Everard, 33, was raped and killed by serving Met officer Wayne Couzens who confronted her as she walked home in south London on March 3 2021.

He was handed a whole-life term in September.

A non-statutory inquiry has since been launched, led by Dame Elish Angiolini, who is looking at how Couzens was able to work as a police officer for three different forces despite concerns about his behaviour.

The Met has also commissioned a review into culture and standards at the force, including Couzens’ former unit, the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command.

The past year has seen several high-profile alleged murders of women by strangers including the deaths of PCSO Julia James and teachers Sabina Nessa and Ashling Murphy.

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