“I will travel far and wide to choose my destiny and remould the world, I know it is my destiny to defend the world, which I hope to achieve during my lifetime”
This is the mantra of the Damilola Taylor Trust, taken from his writing shortly before his death on November 27, in 2000.
Damilola was your typical 10-year-old Nigerian boy. Intelligent, hardworking and a great footie fan. His dad Richard Taylor recalls how happy Damilola had been after he moved to England with his mum and siblings. ‘He told me he was very happy here, ” said Taylor, who told a documentary ‘Damilola- The death of a 10 year old’, screened on London Live on Thursday that he had actually wanted his son to return to Nigeria after spending a few months in England, but didn’t have the heart to pull him away as he seemed to be so happy here.
That happiness was cut short when Damilola was killed after just three months in England. The family had moved to an estate in Peckham on arrival in Britain and Damilola had enrolled in a local school, where teachers said he was doing extremely well. No one knows exactly why he was picked on and bullied at school, but Damilola did tell his mum that some boys had used abusive language at him at school and even called him ‘gay’. This was only a few days before his death.
Damilola was attacked by a group of boys as he made his way back from school on that fateful day. A journey that many kids make everyday from school, but on this particular occasion, this young boy would never infact make it back home to his waiting mum, Gloria.
After being fatally wounded by a broken glass shard, Damilola stumbled across the yard as he bled, in search of help before collapsing on a flight of stairs, where he was found by a passerby who alerted the authorities. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital and his last words reportedly were those of reassurance- ‘Don’t worry, I’m OK’.
His death shook the nation as questions swirled at the horror of the incident. Who would kill an innocent 10-year-old?
Former Met police officer turned Journalist Rav Wilding gave a first hand narrative of the mood in the force’s local branch. The area in Peckham were Damilola was killed used to be Wilding’s beat and he recalled that officers were so horrified about the killing, everyone vowed to bring the killers to justice. But justice would not be served so easily as it took several years, and several trials featuring various accused young boys, before the perpetrators were eventually brought to justice.
Brothers Ricki Preddie and Danny Preddie were convicted of manslaughter for the death of Damilola Taylor in 2006, 6 years after his death.
In that time, rather than wallow in grief and anger at their son’s untimely death, his parents Richard and Gloria Taylor had set up a trust, ‘The Damilola Taylor Trust’. A charity that is committed to providing inner-city youths with opportunities to play, learn and live their lives free of fear and violence.
After years of championing amazing projects including the Spirit of London Awards, the Trust ran into difficulty earlier this year and was on the brink of closure due to financial troubles. Richard Taylor issued a public appeal for donations and now a charity Fundraising company Listen, has managed to raise £25, 000 for the Trust.
“Receiving such a gift on the anniversary of the loss of my son, Damilola, makes this generosity even more poignant,” said Taylor.
“Damilola lost his life because of enormous problems in society. We’ve made great progress, but unfortunately these problems have not been resolved and too many other lives have been lost, and families left with only grief.
“Damilola’s dream was to ‘defend the world’. In continuing this work in his name, we are determined to make that dream a reality on behalf of all young people who yearn for a life free of fear, and full of opportunity.”
To find out more about the Damilola Trust or to donate to the amazing work carried out by the Trust, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/ListenFundraising