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SERVICES 
Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 15:13 GMT
Blair pays tribute to Damilola
Tony and Cherie Blair meet Richard and Gloria Taylor
Tony and Cherie Blair attended a memorial service
The Prime Minister has joined Damilola Taylor's parents at the official opening of a youth centre named after the murdered schoolboy on the first anniversary of his death.

Tony and Cherie Blair helped Richard and Gloria Taylor to unveil a bronze plaque bearing an image of their son and words written by him.

The plaque reads: "I will travel far and wide to choose my destiny and remould the world, I know it is my destiny to defend the world, which I hope to achieve during my lifetime."


The best memorial for him is to try and help in the remaking of his local community and that's the purpose of today

Tony Blair
Damilola's father made a speech at The Warwick Park Centre, which from Tuesday will become the Damilola Taylor Centre, in Peckham, south London.

Mr Taylor said: "When Damilola was killed on this day one year ago my life was devastated, I was destroyed.

"Damilola's was a short but good life, we thank God for him, he changed our lives and the memory of such a boy and his terrible loss will remain with us forever.

"Damilola's death awakened many things in many people.

"It made the authorities sit up and take notice, it forced those who make the laws to face harsh realities - but most of all I believe, it made parents, communities and officials more aware than ever of their responsibilities towards young people."

'Remarkable boy'

He added: "I hope when young people come here to this centre they will sense a little of Damilola's spirit.

"But most of all, I hope for them what I had hoped for my own child."


He had a lifetime ahead of him and though only 10 he had already formed a view about what he wanted to do

Dr George Carey
Mr Blair paid tribute to Damilola saying he touched many people's hearts.

He also told the Taylors "how much we appreciate your dignity and courage this last year."

Mr Blair added: "Damilola was obviously a remarkable young boy in his own right.

"He was an unusual young boy who perhaps because of the different experiences he had, and the strength of his family, had an outlook on life that we would all like to have, interested in other people, thinking beyond himself.

Doctor ambition

"The best memorial for him is to try and help in the remaking of his local community and that's the purpose of today."

The Archbishop of Canterbury had paid tribute to Damilola, who he described as "loveable and intelligent", at a memorial service earlier on Tuesday.

Dr George Carey said a "battle for a better society" built on the values of family life needed to be fought following the schoolboy's death.

Tony Blair also attended the service at St Luke's Church in Peckham near where Damilola was found dead.

Damilola Taylor
Damilola wanted to be a doctor
Before attending the church he held a private meeting with Damilola's parents.

Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens and local MP Harriet Harman were part of the 200-strong congregation at the service.

Dr Carey said: "He had a lifetime ahead of him and though only 10 he had already formed a view about what he wanted to do - he planned not just to become a doctor but to do research into epilepsy to help his big sister Gbemi.

"Those who took his life must certainly be held to account, that is the basic requirement but that cannot be the end of our concern as individuals or as a society.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Emma Simpson
"There were songs and tributes"
See also:

24 Nov 01 | England
Damilola community demands a voice
08 Nov 01 | England
Damilola memorial plan
10 Oct 01 | Music
Musical tribute to Damilola
27 May 01 | UK
Pop tribute for Damilola
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