For over half of the grieving families of those killed a year ago in the London Bridge Terror Attacks, one of their first encounters with this country was with Bermondsey’s Albin’s funeral home.
The repatriation arm of this established firm was contacted within hours of the attacks.
On the Sunday after Saturday’s massacre Albin’s International Repatriation service was tasked with flying home five of the eight victims.
To mark the first anniversary since the terrorist attacks, owners Simon and Jon Dyer laid eight white roses in their memorial garden on the edge of Southwark Park.
The eight roses were laid at a tree special planted to remember the fallen soldiers who all pass through the gates of Albin’s, before they are taken to their respective homes.
“At the base of the tree we have laid stones to represent each soldier we have had to bring home from war-zones across the globe. We thought it a fitting place to put a rose for all eight victims of the London Bridge Terror Attacks,” Jon Dyer told the News.
Working with the consulates of each of the countries the five victims were from, Albin’s prepared and presented them for viewing for their grieving families in its chapel of rest, off Lower Road.
Some of the victims lay in Bermondsey, visited by the families, for up to two days before they were taken home.
Alexandre Pigeard , Xavier Thomas, and Sebastien Belanger were repatriated to Paris. Christine Archibald to Canada and Ingnacio Echeverria to Madrid.
French chef Sebastian Belanger, 36, died of a stab wound to the chest in Borough Market as he was drinking at Boro Bistro.
Alexandre Pigeard, a 27-year-old from Normandy, France was working on the terrace at Boro Bistro restaurant in Borough Market. His body was found by Southwark Cathedral on Montague Close. He had been repeatedly slashed in the throat and chest – his cause of death was given as a haemorrhage caused by knife wounds.
Fellow Frenchman, Xavier Thomas, 45, was pulled from the River Thames three days after the attack – it is thought he was hit by the van and thrown off the bridge. He was crossing the bridge with his partner when he was hit – the pair were on a visit as part of his job as an events and travel manager in Paris.
Albin’s arranged for all three Frenchmen to be repatriated to Paris using Air France from Heathrow on June 15th. Their bodies had been were released by the Southwark Coroner on the 9th June and were immediately brought into Albin’s care. On arrival at Paris airport they received a ceremony attended by French Government representatives and family members. The ceremony was overseen by Albin’s Paris based colleagues before the coffins were taken to their individual final places of rest.
Stabbed in the back on London Bridge 39-year-old HSBC worker Ignacio Echeverria, from As Pontas, Spain, was fighting back at the terrorist. An inquest heard how he tried to fight one of the three terrorists with his skateboard as he helped an injured woman.
After being laid out in Albin’s chapel of rest the Spanish Government on June 10th arranged for a military flight to return Ignacio and his family to Madrid. The flight was from RAF Northolt and Albin’s arranged for Ignacio to be taken to RAF Northolt to meet the military flight.
Canadian Christine Archibald, 30, was struck by the speeding van as she walked across the bridge with her fiancé Tyler Ferguson. She died in Tyler’s arms and was the first victim to be named. Her body was released by Southwark Coroner on June 12th and Albin arranged for Tyler to spend time with her in their chapel of rest before arranging the flight to Calgary using Air Canada two days later.
This came just over a month after Albin’s conducted the funeral of PC Keith Palmer, who was killed in the Westminster attack in March 2017. His funeral at Southwark Cathedral saw thousands of police officers line the route of the 2.6-mile cortege. Four other people were killed in the attack and Albin’s on that occasion was also tasked with the repatriation of American tourist Kurt Cochran, who was on a holiday celebrating 25 years of marriage.