'Hold no hate in your hearts': Nottingham victims' families pay tribute to loved ones as thousands gather at vigil

15 June 2023, 18:26 | Updated: 15 June 2023, 20:45

Hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to the three victims of the Nottingham attacks
Hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to the three victims of the Nottingham attacks. Picture: Alamy/Handout

By Kit Heren

The mother of one of the victims of the Nottingham stabbing attack has urged thousands at a vigil to "hold no hate in your hearts", as local leaders encouraged residents not to be intimidated by the violence.

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Three people - Ian, Coates Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar - were killed and three more injured in a stabbing and van attack in the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Police arrested a suspect - a 31-year-old University of Nottingham graduate and West African immigrant with right to remain in the UK - who remains in police custody.

The families of the three victims, as well as local political and religious leaders, all spoke at the vigil on Thursday evening in the city's Market Square.

The thousands of people gathered also held a minute's silence to commemorate Grace, Barnaby and Mr Coates, 65, who worked at a school. Barnaby and Grace, both 19, were Nottingham University students.

Emma Webber, the mother of Barnaby Webber, speaks during the vigil
Emma Webber, the mother of Barnaby Webber, speaks during the vigil. Picture: Alamy

Barnaby's mother Emma said her cricket-loving son was "so proud" of his brother.

She told the crowd: "Please hold no hate to any race, colour, sex or religion in your heart... My beautiful boy - you have my, your dad and your brother's heart forever."

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Grace's father speaking at the vigil
Grace's father speaking at the vigil. Picture: Alamy

Barnaby's emotional brother held a photo of him as she spoke. His father, David Webber, placed his hand on his his wife's shoulder throughout the entire speech.

Mr Coates' sons also spoke at the vigil wearing Nottingham Forest shirts with the slogan 'RIP Dad'.

One of the sons, James, promised support to the families of Grace and Barnaby. Addressing the families, he said: "Obviously they are going through the same thing that we are, anything they need from us we're happy to support you."

Members of the public observe a minute's silence during a vigil in Old Market Square, Nottingham
Members of the public observe a minute's silence during a vigil in Old Market Square, Nottingham. Picture: Alamy

He thanked everybody for the "kind words" that have poured in about his father.

"It feels like he's touched a lot of hearts over the years, more than what we assumed and knew that he had, so it's been really nice and heartwarming to see the messages and people come out and talk about how he was when they were younger and how he's helped them," he said.

Members of the public observe a minute's silence during a vigil in Old Market Square, Nottingham
Members of the public observe a minute's silence during a vigil in Old Market Square, Nottingham. Picture: Alamy

Dr Sanjoy Kumar fought back tears as he said that their family had "become three".

His wife Sinead told the crowd: "My beautiful baby girl, she wasn't just beautiful on the outside, you must have seen her pictures, she was so beautiful on the inside. She was a treasure, an adored child.

"She wanted very few things in life, she wanted to be a doctor, she wanted to play hockey with her pals, she wanted to have fun."

She went on: "All they were doing was walking home, were just walking home after a night-out and, like Emma Webber says, this person must face justice.

"It just is truly so unfair... Say prayers for my baby girl."

Grace Kumar
Grace Kumar. Picture: Social Media

Local leaders paid tribute to the three victims, and encouraged victims to come together in the wake of the tragedy at the vigil.

Earlier in the vigil, Ross Middleton, the headteacher of Huntingdon Academy, where Mr Coates was site manager, said the 65-year-old was "full of fun with a mischievous glint in his eye".

He said: "We will all remember him with great affection. Rest in peace Ian, and, of course, I'll keep an eye on Forest results for you."

Councillor David Mellen also urged those present to not allow the Nottingham attacks to make them scared.

In a short address, Mr Mellen said the deaths of Ms O'Malley-Kumar, Mr Webber and Mr Coates "shock us because they are so unusual".

He added: "We have a city that is safe and welcoming ... and we must not allow fear to grip our streets."

Barnaby Wallace, pictured with his younger brother
Barnaby Wallace, pictured with his younger brother. Picture: Family handout

It comes after a vigil was held at the university on Wednesday night, where the parents of Barney and Grace addressed attendees.

Professor Shearer West, vice chancellor of the University of Nottingham, said on Thursday that the university was still "trying to process the information" that the suspect was a former student.

She said: "All three of these lives were cut short in the most unimaginable way on Tuesday morning.

Ian Coates
Ian Coates. Picture: Handout

"Their well-earned retirement plans and bright futures brutally curtailed by a seemingly random act of violence.

"At the university, we held our own vigil yesterday with Barney and Grace's families to remember them and mourn their loss.

"I was overwhelmed by the love and support that was offered to the families by more than 2,000 students and staff who gathered together as a community.

"Although seemingly unconnected to these dreadful acts, we are still in the university trying to process the information that the suspect in custody was a former student."

Ian Coates who was killed in Nottingham yesterday
Ian Coates who was killed in Nottingham yesterday. Picture: social media

Several local religious leaders also spoke at the vigil.

Shujahat Aslam, chair of the Nottingham Council of Mosques, referenced Grace O'Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber's parents, saying: "It hurts so much as a parent whose kids go to university as well that we weren't able to look after their kids as our kids are looked after."

He said the way to honour all three victims' memories and legacies was to be "the best version of ourselves".

Grace Kumar
Grace Kumar. Picture: Social media

Gurcharan Manku, of the Sikh community in Nottingham, said it was "truly incomprehensible" that the city has lost "three wonderful people in such a devastating and horrible way".

"It is sad, so sad, that one person can make such a devastating impact on so many lives," he added.

Nottinghamshire police and crime commissioner told those gathered that "it's really important at times like this we come together as a city - and the vigils held across Nottingham show that community is united."

Barnaby Webber
Barnaby Webber. Picture: Handout

Police are continuing to question the suspect, who is a 31-year-old University of Nottingham mechanical engineering graduate.

Valdo Amissão Mendes Calocane, thought to be a 31-year-old West African man living legally in the UK, is being questioned in custody by officers over the Nottingham terror attack.

Police said on Thursday that he had been a student at Nottingham University, where two of the victims, Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar, were studying.

The vigil comes after Mr Coates' friend Ben Dutton paid tribute to Mr Coates, and told LBC how the older man introduced him to fishing while he was a caretaker at his school - which Mr Dutton has since pursued professionally.

"He basically set up a small fishing club for the lads that didn't want to do much else," Mr Dutton said. "And not just for them - for anyone that was just interested in the sport.

The Nottingham suspect has been named
The Nottingham suspect has been named. Picture: ITV

"And he set up a small fishing club within our school and progressed as on from there, taking us all around the country out of his own pocket".

Mr Dutton said that Mr Coates paid for the coaches, gave out fishing tackle and made sure "that we did something that we loved".

He added: "And I've remained friends with him all the way through there." Mr Dutton later became a match angler and set up his own angling centre. He said that he rekindled his friendship with Mr Coates and they had been friends ever since.

"And then came and fished for me, which was fantastic. And the icing on the cake, really.

"He was just a fantastic bloke that literally would do anything for anybody... he would do anything fishing for the kids."

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Ian Coates' friend pays tribute

Mr Dutton said that his father died when he was young, and Mr Coates and his fishing trips had helped him.

"If it wasn't for him I probably wouldn't be in this job now. I wouldn't be doing what I did."

Mr Dutton added that he was two weeks away from going fishing with Mr Coates, whom he described as a "pillar of the community".

"He's a great character - like he never had his teeth in, which always used to make me giggle.

The Nottingham suspect
The Nottingham suspect being arrested. Picture: ITV

"I'd come in, he'd be...whistling everywhere and he loved a coffee, loved a smoke and loved a swear word.

"But he was just fantastic. Just an absolute pillar of the community. And I mean that for what he's done for children, adults, and fishing and for sport in Nottingham.

"There isn't many that have done as much as he's done for people."

Read more: Nottingham attack suspect named as engineering graduate at same university of two victims

Read more: Nottingham killings suspect was student at same university as two victims, as police get extra 36 hours to question him