Vigil held in Barn Hill for murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman
- Credit: David Nathan
Family and friends of two murdered sisters gathered in Fryent Country Park to hold an emotive minute's silence to remember them and ensure they are never forgpotten.
Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were stabbed to death in the park in the early hours of June 6 last year after celebrating Bibaa's 46th birthday.
Their mother Mina Smallman attended a vigil at Barn Hill Pond on Tuesday, on the day Nicole would have celebrated her 29th birthday, the same birthday as her father Christopher who was also at the event.
Large crowds lit candles and laid flowers around a small memorial near the pond.
Mina called on women to stand together against violence as she made a speech at the vigil, which was organised by Reclaim These Streets.
"I look around and what do I see, I see beauty everywhere. I see women of colour and people of all different races and I see men. I see lots of men.
“The thing we must never do is lump any people as one bad thing. I know lots of amazing men, I know lots of amazing men who have helped women to raise their potential.
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"But today we’re looking at women and we’re thinking about women.”
She said she was asked what colours she'd want for a celebration of life and was thinking of "colours of suffrage" - green, purple and white, and the "determination" of Emeline Pankhurst and the "passion of their cause".
She said: "As a teacher and a priest I have given my life over to raising boys and girls that people looked down on and didn’t think that they could be anybody. Now I’m doing it for my girls and I’m doing it for every one of the girls here.
“I am so tired of old, grey, boring white men telling us how to live our lives. You know nothing changes because they still have the power, they still call the shots.
“We haven’t really gone through the glass ceiling, they’ve just put a concrete one up. Well, we’re bringing in the bulldozers. We’re calling it out.”
The family were joined by the sisters' friends, campaigners, and politicians including both Brent MPs Dawn Butler and Barry Gardiner, London mayor Sadiq Khan and Mandu Reid, leader of the Women's Equality Party.
The proceedings kicked off with Mr Gardiner singing Amazing Grace.
He told this paper: "Last year when we gathered on the other side of the park all of us were in shock. This year we've had time to reflect on the lives of these amazing young women but also come together to celebrate those lives and give thanks to the joy they brought to their families and other people."
Ms Butler added: "Today is important for so many reasons, not only to celebrate the lives of the two sisters who had the right to be in their park.
"They should have been safe, they should have returned home but this also shows the family that we care and that the community cares and the life of two black women matters and to question the system that let them down."
Sophie Payne attended Wembley High School with Bibaa. She said: "It was nice to remember them, no-one is going to forget them."
She said the sisters' deaths were a "total shock". "We'd gone out earlier in the year to see comedy at Wembley Boxpark just before lockdown. It was great."
When she received a phone call about her death, she said "it took me to a place I'd never been before, I was hyper-ventilating, I was in shock, it was horrible."
Her sister Shelly said she was a "friendnapper": "I'd always say Bibaa was my friend, not Sophie's. "We had a lot of fun, telling jokes and a lot of good times."
She added: "I feel better to have somewhere to come to remember them because to go there (pointing north of the park where the girls were found) is too hard."
Friend Deborah Samuel added: "A lot of support has come out. We must not let them be forgotten, never be forgotten at all."
Ken Johnson lived near Bibaa in Wembley. "I used to meet her most days. She was a terrific young lady," he said. "It's sad when you meet someone nearly every day and the next minute you don't see her. I couldn't believe it when I heard."
Jamie Klinger is founder of event organiser Reclaim These Streets and said: "We felt this would be really good for Mina and the family. I feel it was important for the community, for people to reclaim their park."
Danyal Hussein, 19, was found guilty of double murder and possession of a knife at the Old Bailey and will be sentenced at the same court on September 22.