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Vigil held in Nottingham for victims of attack

14 June 2023

Three people died in what is believed to have been a random attack


The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Williams, looks on as people gather for a vigil in St Peter’s, Nottingham, on Tuesday evening

The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Williams, looks on as people gather for a vigil in St Peter’s, Nottingham, on Tuesday eveni...

HUNDREDS attended a vigil at St Peter’s, Nottingham, on Tuesday evening, after the deaths of three people — two of them students — in what is now believed to have been a random attack by a lone individual on the city streets at 4 a.m.

The students, named as Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar, both 19, were within minutes of reaching their accommodation in a student area of the city when they were stabbed to death. The attacker went on to drive what is believed to have been a stolen van further into the city, and drove it into three people at a bus stop on Milton Street. One is reported to be seriously injured, the others as having minor injuries.

The van’s owner was found dead in Magdala Road, in the Mapperley Park area of the city. The attacker is thought to have flagged him down, stabbed him to death, and stolen the van.

A 31-year-old man has been arrested.

The Rector of St Peter’s, the Revd Christopher Harrison, told the Church Times on Wednesday morning: “There was an overwhelming response to the vigil. The church was filled with students and others stunned by the loss of lives suddenly cut short.

“This morning, we are waking up to a changed city. The blue skies and summer sun jar with the almost palpable mood of sombreness and anxiety. Questions remain: where did this sudden eruption of barbarity come from? What does it mean for us all in the days and months to come?

“The grief will remain, and healing will be a complex process. But Nottingham is a strong and caring city, and it will, in time, overcome this major shock to us all.”

The vigil was led by the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Williams. Speaking afterwards to the BBC, he said: “The young people are still taking in the enormity of what happened, and I think that’s really difficult.

“Of course, right now, our hearts, thoughts, prayers go out to those especially who have lost loved ones in such tragic circumstances. We’re praying for them, and for their friends; we’re praying for those seriously injured; we’re praying for the emergency services who were there and the first response.

“But, in this place and in places all around the city, people have been pulling together today because that’s what this city does in difficult times. People pull together, and it’s there we find the strength to go on and hope for the future.

“I’ve been Bishop here for more than eight years, and there is just a wonderful sense of friendship here. Community bonds really, really matter to people. I’d like to say to people outside the city: yes, pray for us, but pray that those bonds of community and friendship are going to be strengthened. I think they will be in the days to come, as we process such tragic events.”

The city has 80,000 students at its two universities. The students who died were both at the University of Nottingham. Its campus was variously described by students on Wednesday morning as “subdued” and “melancholy”.

The co-ordinating chaplain/Anglican chaplain at the University, the Revd Grant Walton, told the Church Times on Wednesday that the mood on the campus was very sombre. “Everybody is devastated, and obviously, thoughts are with the families and friends for what they are going through in having their lives changed so drastically for ever.

“This kind of event brings all kinds of responses for people at all kinds of different levels and it will be something that will work its way out in the community over many months.”

The chaplaincy provides support for students and staff of all faiths and none, and is embedded in campus life. Support and well-being services met on Wednesday morning, and the chaplaincy was involved in a vigil on Wednesday afternoon.

The randomness of this attack is being emphasised in all the reports, and Mr Walton said: “This is generally a safe city, and students love being here.”


The Archbishop of Canterbury responded to what he described on Twitter as “The terrible and tragic incident in Nottingham this morning. I join with everyone praying for all those affected, for grieving family and friends, and for the emergency services in their ongoing response.”

The Archbishop of York posted: “Pray for Nottingham today, for those who have died, for the injured, for those who mourn, and for those who care for them. Lord, have mercy.”

A statement from the University says: “It is with great sadness that we confirm the sudden and unexpected death of two of our students following a major incident in Nottingham City centre overnight. We are shocked and devastated by the news and our thoughts are with those affected, their families and friends.

“We know this is likely to cause distress for staff and students in our community. Support is available through our support and wellbeing services for any of our community who may need it.”

The Suffragan Bishop of Sherwood, Dr Andrew Emerton, described the day in Nottingham as having been “challenging”, and, on Twitter, expressed his gratitude to all who had joined in the vigil. “It was a time to stand together with the University of Nottingham and the wider city to remember, to grieve, to reflect, to pray,” he said.

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