London Murdered Schoolboy, Damilola Taylor’s Father, Richard Dies At 75

– Late Richard Taylor held his murdered son’s portrait 

By St. Johnson Adegboyega 

Richard Taylor, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor, has died aged 75.

Mr Taylor campaigned tirelessly against gang violence in the capital after his 10-year-old son was murdered in south London on 27 November 2000 as he walked home from the local library after school.

Damilola, who dreamed of being a doctor, had moved to London from Nigeria a few months before he was found bleeding to death in a stairwell near his home in Peckham after being stabbed in the leg with a broken beer bottle.

A statement issued on behalf of Mr Taylor’s family said: “It is with a heavy heart that the family announce the death of our beloved father, grandfather and uncle, Mr Richard Adeyemi Taylor OBE, who sadly passed away in the early hours of Saturday 23 March at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer.”

Damilola’s parents Mr Taylor and his wife Gloria Taylor, who died aged 57 in 2008, set up the Damilola Taylor Trust in May 2001 as a memorial to his son with the aim of providing hope and opportunity to disadvantaged youngsters.

– Richard Taylor and wife (both late)

Brothers Ricky and Danny Preddie were finally convicted of Damilola’s manslaughter and jailed for eight years in October 2006 after three crown court trials.

In 2020, the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, agreed to designate 7 December – Damilola’s birthday – as an annual Day Of Hope to celebrate and encourage the work of the trust and the Hope Collective.

Mr Taylor, a former civil servant in Nigeria, regularly spoke out about knife crime and was appointed as an anti-knife crime envoy by then prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009 and was made an OBE for his services to reducing youth violence.

In the 2006 Respect Your Life Not A Knife campaign he worked with footballer Rio Ferdinand, who was then playing for Damilola’s beloved Manchester United.

He later revealed Star Wars actor John Boyega was one of the last people to see Damilola alive.

When the moving BBC drama, Damilola, Our Loved Boy won a BAFTA in 2017, Mr Taylor used his emotional acceptance speech to appeal to end the stabbings on the streets of London.
Dedicating the award to his son’s memory, he said: “I want to appeal to young people on the streets killing themselves.
“Parents are crying… killing has gone up recently in the city of London. I beg you: stop unnecessary killing of children.

Former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, whose 16-year-old brother Ben was stabbed to death in Islington, led tributes to Mr Taylor, who supported a march against knife crime in central London in 2008 that was led by the Ben Kinsella Trust she founded.

“Richard’s courage in the face of unimaginable grief was an inspiration to me,” she said.

“After the horrific loss of his son Damilola, he chose to channel his pain into a fight for a safer future. He turned tragedy into a relentless determination to keep other families from experiencing the same heartbreak.
“Richard became a close friend and confidant after Ben’s murder, sharing his strength and unwavering belief in justice.”

Posting on X, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Richard championed breaking down barriers to opportunity through the Damilola Taylor Trust, in honour of his son’s memory.

“He will be remembered for his courage, determination and message of hope. My condolences to Richard’s family and friends.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said Mr Taylor “lived a life in total legacy to his son, Damilola, dedicating his time to giving young people a hopeful future through positive opportunities. May he rest in peace and power”.
Labour Brent Central MP Dawn Butler said on X:

“My deepest condolences go out to the family of Richard Taylor. He was a great man and a dear friend.
“He always had such kind words of wisdom for me. I will miss him. May he rest in eternal peace and may he be reunited with Damilola in heaven.”
Florence Eshalomi, the Labour MP for Vauxhall, posted: “Very sad to hear this news.

“Uncle Richard was a strong man who held the legacy and light for the Damilola Taylor Trust.
“I’m reading through my last message with him where he was reminding me about the work of the Trust. He is now at peace with his beloved son and wife.”

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