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Sunday, 16 April, 2000, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Respects paid to Bernie Grant
Bernie Grant lies in state at a sports hall in Tottenham, North London
Local people came to offer their condolences
Mourners of all ages and culture have been paying their respects to Labour MP and black rights champion Bernie Grant.

After being flooded with sympathy letters and phone calls, Mr Grant's family decided to share their mourning with the rest of the community by laying the body in a local sports centre.

The Haringey Council leader who died of a heart attack on 8 April, aged 56, was displayed in a silver casket in a side room at Tottenham Green Leisure Centre, north London.

His funeral will take place on Tuesday and organisers have promised it will be a multi-cultural celebration.

After being warmly greeted by family members, mourners were quietly ushered in one at a time to allow them a moment's reflection by the coffin before they added their own personal message to a condolence book.

The Guyana-born MP is to be commemorated with a ceremony at London's Alexandra Palace.

Bernie Grant
Bernie Grant: Leftwinger who campaigned for black rights
Mr Grant's sister Efua Nortey, who flew in from Ghana to join the family said: "He was such an incredible person in terms of what he did within the family as well as politically.

"A lot of people will see the value of his work and try to step into his shoes."

And Rosamund Grant said the family had received three to four hundred phone calls since the death.

She said "It's been hard to accept he's such a public person because to me he was my brother."

She added: "He has been an inspiration to young people.

"He always told them to get on with being British black rather than people who had just been flown in."

Multicultural funeral

Mr Grant's office said the whole community was welcome at Tuesday's funeral and there will be tributes interspersed with music.

Before the funeral there will be a cortege passing some key sites of Mr Grant's life.

It will leave Haringey Civic Centre where he was the first black leader of a local authority in Europe. The route will pass his Tottenham offices and then go into the Broadwater Farm Estate, where he was chairman of the local community centre and worked to improve relations after the riots of the 1980s.

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See also:

08 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Labour MP Bernie Grant dies
08 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Bernie Grant: A controversial figure
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