LONDON: Britain will hold a national minute of silence on Sunday, one year on from the London Bridge terror attack that killed eight people and injured dozens more.
Flowers will be laid, candles lit and a religious service held at Southwark Cathedral — the spot where three terrorists crashed after using a van to careen into crowds, before launching a stabbing spree at nearby Borough Market.
“Today we remember those who died and the many more who were injured, and also pay tribute to the bravery of our emergency services and those who intervened or came to the aid of others,” said Prime Minister Theresa May.
She branded the June 3 attack “a cowardly attempt to strike at the heart of our freedoms by deliberately targeting people enjoying their Saturday night with friends and family” and noted that seven of the victims were foreign nationals.
“This is a reflection of our great cosmopolitan capital, whose energy and values brings together people from across the world, and a tragic reminder that the threat from terrorism transcends borders and impacts us all,” she said.
The words #LondonUnited will be projected onto the bridge on Sunday following a minute of silence scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (1530GMT).
Candles will be lit by relatives of the victims during the ceremony before an olive tree — known as the Tree of Healing — is planted in the cathedral grounds using compost from floral tributes left on the bridge in the aftermath of the murders.
The tree will be “a constant reminder to us all of those who were harmed but also of the importance of our communities coming together to stand against violence in all its forms,” said the Dean of Southwark, Andrew Nunn, who will host the service.
Among those visiting the cathedral for the service on the south bank of the Thames, set to include a procession to the bridge, will be Frenchwoman Christine Delcros, 46.
She was seriously injured in the vehicle-ramming attack whilst her partner Xavier Thomas, 45, was killed, with his body later recovered from the river.
“On the psychological level, the wounds are invisible, but they are the most serious,” she told AFP in an interview this week.
“I remain traumatized by the loss of the love of my life, in circumstances beyond my comprehension.”
On Saturday preparations for the ceremony were underway with cleaners working on the bridge — now fitted with anti-vehicle crash barriers which prevent cars and vans from mounting the pavement.
And on Friday PC Wayne Marques, who took on the three attackers solo with his baton and was stabbed in the head, revealed he was planning to return to work next month after a year of rehabilitation.
“I’m just basically trying to get as much of me back as possible,” he said in a video released by the British Transport Police.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who will attend the ceremony, said the city would honor the victims of terror attacks “through our actions and standing united against terrorism and in hope for the future.”
“The cowardly terrorists who commit these horrific acts do so to try to divide us, to fuel fear and to change how we treat one another. I’m proud of the way we have responded: standing united in defiance and staying true to our values and way of life,” he said in a statement.
The attackers were shot dead outside Borough Market eight minutes after the first emergency call was made.
The Daesh group claimed responsibility for the attack, one in a six-month campaign of atrocities that swept Britain last year, claiming a total of 35 lives.
Five were killed during an attack near London’s Houses of Parliament on March 22, and on May 22 a further 22 died — many children — in a suicide attack at a pop concert in Manchester.