Heartbroken family of Grace Kumar pay tribute to 'wonderful and beautiful' student killed in Nottingham

14 June 2023, 14:51 | Updated: 14 June 2023, 15:25

Tributes have come in for Grace Kumar, who was killed in a knife attack in Nottingham on Tuesday
Tributes have come in for Grace Kumar, who was killed in a knife attack in Nottingham on Tuesday. Picture: Nottinghamshire Police

By Emma Soteriou

The devastated family of Grace Kumar has paid tribute to the "wonderful and beautiful" student killed in a series of attacks in Nottingham on Tuesday.

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Grace, 19, was with fellow student Barnaby Webber on the way home from a night out when they were knifed to death in the early hours of Tuesday.

School caretaker Ian Coates, who was in his 60s, was killed while making his way to work before the attacker stole his van, going on to run into and injure people in the city centre. One of those victims is still in a critical condition.

A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder. The motive behind the attacks is not yet clear.

Grace, who was a first-year medical student, was a talented hockey player described as "a popular member of the England U16 and U18 squads", Nottinghamshire Police said.

Cricket coach of Nottingham victim, Grace Kumar, says the attacks have 'united' people

Her family said she was "resilient and wise beyond her years" and praised her for training to become a doctor while also playing topflight hockey.

Police shared a statement from them saying: "Grace was an adored daughter and sister; she was a truly wonderful and beautiful young lady.

"Grace was not just a sister to James but his best friend. He is completely heartbroken. As parents, words cannot explain our complete and utter devastation. She will be so dearly missed.

"We were so incredibly proud of Grace’s achievements and what a truly lovely person she was. She was resilient and wise beyond her years.

"Grace was so happy in life fulfilling her ambition of studying to become a doctor whilst playing topflight hockey at university.

"She leaves behind devastated extended family and friends. We request that all media outlets stop invading our privacy while we face this sorrow."

Grace is thought to have attended Bancroft School
Grace is thought to have attended Bancroft School. Picture: Social media

Grace played hockey for England at age group level, and turned out for her local club in north-east London. She also played age-group cricket for Essex county cricket club, and for a local club.

Essex said: "We send our condolences to the family, friends and teammates of Barnaby and Grace during this extremely difficult time." Players will wear black armbands in tribute to the victims at the next game.

Essex women's team added that Grace was a "massive talent", as well as "a respected captain and awesome teammate." They said: "Our thoughts are with family, friends and all that knew Grace".

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Grace captained Essex cricket club's junior side
Grace captained Essex cricket club's junior side. Picture: Twitter

Woodford Wells Cricket Club, in Essex, said Grace was "fun, friendly and brilliant".

"Devastated to hear the news about former Wells Baby Belles captain, Grace Kumar," the club tweeted.

"A fiercely competitive, talented and dedicated cricketer and hockey player.

They added that their thoughts were with her family "and everyone who knew Grace - fun, friendly and brilliant."

Grace Kumar
Grace Kumar. Picture: social media

England Hockey added: "We are all deeply saddened by the news of the tragic death of Grace Kumar in Nottingham on Tuesday.

"Grace was a popular member of the England U16 and U18 squads and our thoughts are with Grace’s family, friends, teammates and the whole hockey community at this time."

Read more: 'Beautiful, brilliant, young man': Family's tribute to student killed in Nottingham attack in 'senseless murder'

Read more: Nottingham attack suspect 'is West African man, 31, who has legally lived in UK for years' as cops probe mental health

Grace attended the private day school Bancroft School in north-east London.

The school said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the death in Nottingham under tragic circumstances of one of our recent leavers from 2022".

They added: "We are desperately shocked and saddened by Grace’s sudden death in these truly terrible circumstances. 

"She left Bancroft’s only last year and was a hugely important part of our community.  An immensely gifted and dedicated scholar and sportswoman, she was hugely loved and greatly respected and admired by all. 

"She was outstanding in every respect and will be missed terribly.

"It will take everyone in the Bancroft’s community a considerable time to come to terms with this shocking news, but above all our thoughts are with Grace’s family and friends at this difficult time."

Her family were too distraught to comment on her death when approached on Tuesday evening. Her father is thought to be Sanjoy Kumar, a GP who helped saved victims of a stabbing in 2009.

It comes after the family of Barnaby also 19, paid tribute to their "beautiful" son and told of their "complete devastation" at his death.

The Webber family described their "complete devastation" at the "senseless murder of our son", saying he was a "beautiful, brilliant, bright young man, with everything in life to look forward to".

His dad David and mum Emma, and younger brother Charlie, said: "Complete devastation is not enough to describe our pain and loss at the senseless murder of our son.

Grace captained a junior side of her local cricket club as a child
Grace captained a junior side of her local cricket club as a child. Picture: Twitter
Grace captained a junior side of her local cricket club as a child
Grace captained a junior side of her local cricket club as a child. Picture: Twitter
Grace captained a junior side of her local cricket club as a child
Grace captained a junior side of her local cricket club as a child. Picture: Twitter

"Barnaby Philip John Webber was a beautiful, brilliant, bright young man, with everything in life to look forward to.

"A talented and passionate cricketer, who was over the moon to have made selection to his university cricket team.

"At 19 he was just at the start of his journey into adulthood and was developing into a wonderful young man.

"As parents we are enormously proud of everything he achieved and all the plans he had made.

"His brother is bereft beyond belief, and at this time we ask for privacy as a family to be allowed time to process and grieve.

Barnaby Webber
Barnaby Webber. Picture: social media
Barnaby's younger brother Charlie was said to be 'beyond bereft' at his death
Barnaby's younger brother Charlie was said to be 'beyond bereft' at his death. Picture: Family handout/PA
Barnaby Webber
Barnaby Webber. Picture: social media

"We are so proud to release these photographs, chosen by us as a family, of an amazing son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend.

"Thank you for your understanding, and to everyone who has supported us in this awful journey so far."

A spokesperson for the university confirmed their students' deaths "with great sadness".

They added: "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 student union added: "We are devastated and shocked by the tragic events that took place last night in the city centre.

"We stand in solidarity with all our students and the wider city, and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those harmed, alongside those directly and indirectly affected by the unfolding of these terrible events."

In an update given on Tuesday evening, Nottinghamshire Police said that they believe the suspect behind the attack stole a van from another victim before driving at members of the public at random.

Speaking outside the city's police station, Police Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: "Police were called to Ilkeston Road just after 4am after a member of the public reported that two people aged 19 had been stabbed and were unresponsive.

A vigil for the dead was held on Tuesday night
A vigil for the victims was held on Tuesday night. Picture: Getty

"We had a further call to another incident in Milton Street, where the driver of a stolen van had attempted to run over three people. As a result, one man is in hospital in a critical condition while two others are believed to have suffered minor injuries".

She continued: "The van was then stopped on Maple Street, where a man was tasered and detained by police officers on suspicion of murder. A man in his 50s was also found dead from knife injuries in Magdala Road by a member of the public.

"At the moment, we believe that the suspect has stolen this man's vehicle and driven it to Milton Street, where he is then driven at members of the public.

"We are still in the early stages of the investigation. I need to determine exactly what the motives were behind this attack."

Forensic officers in Nottingham
Forensic officers in Nottingham. Picture: Getty

On Tuesday evening, hundreds gathered to pay tribute to the three people who lost their lives in the random attack, including Grace and Barnaby.

Residents gathered inside St Peter's Church in the city centre to pay their respects, say prayers and light candles in memory of the victims.

Paul Williams, the Bishop of Nottingham and Southwell, described today as a "very difficult day" for the area.

"It’s a truly horrendous, tragic incident and my heart, my thoughts and my prayers go out to those who are directly affected," he said."The city will share the shock and the dismay of what’s happened."

Police after the attacks
Police after the attacks. Picture: Getty

Home Secretary Suella Braverman also expressed shock at the attack.She said: "First of all, I want to say how shocked and saddened I am that three people have lost their lives earlier today in Nottingham and that further individuals have been injured in this tragic incident.

"My thoughts first and foremost are with all of those who have been involved, their friends, their families and their communities.

"I want to thank the emergency services for their rapid response. They're working around the clock to keep people safe and we're incredibly grateful for their efforts."

How the attacks unfolded

4am - Male attacker stabs a young man and a young woman on Ilkeston Road. Police later found two people dead.\

5.10am - Man found dead on Magdala road after reports of 'screaming'. A resident believes what he heard was the sound of the body being discovered.

5.30am - Man in a white van - believed to have been stolen from victim - hits people at around 5.30am on Milton Street near the Theatre Royal.

5.40am - Witness Kane Brady wakes up to 'gunshots' and sees a person tasered, dragged out of a van and arrested.

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