Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Australian PM Kevin Rudd were among the attendees at a memorial service held in London last night, to remember the 173 people who died in the bush fires which devastated Australia last month – making 2000 people homeless and leaving a further 7500 displaced.
The service was also attended by London based Australians, including South Australian cellist Thomas Rann, an extraordinary player and nephew of the Premier of South Australia The Hon. Mike Rann. Sarah Brown, novelist Kathy Lette and David Miliband also lent their support to the service – which saw Therese Rein, the Australian First Lady, read a moving passage from Isaiah.
David Williams played the the didgeridoo before the service at the front of the alter, followed by Martene Grimson, a famed Australian soprano who sang from the Messiah. The musical performances were accompanied by readings from actress Penny Downie, of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who read Train Journey, a poem by Judith Wright, and British High Commissioner to Australia, Rt. Hon. Mrs Helen Liddle, who read from Romans.
The service became particularly emotional as members of the families of the victims laid flowers in the Innocent Victim’s memorial.
Kathy Lette, one of the organisers of the service, said ‘We have organised this memorial service as a mark of respect and to raise funds for the victims. Australians are hardened to bush fires, but nothing could prepare us for this gut-wrenching catastrophe. This service will show that tragedy will not dent an indomitable spirit”
To make a donation to the Australian Bush Fire Appeal , please see the Australian Red Cross http://www.redcross.org.au