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Hundreds gather outside Admiral Duncan pub to mark 20 years since deadly bomb attack

Old Compton Street was brought to a standstill as the London Gay Men's Chorus delivered an emotional rendition of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' on Tuesday evening (30 April).

By Will Stroude

Words: Will Stroude

Hundreds gathered outside the Admiral Duncan pub in London on Tuesday night (30 April) to honour those who lost their lives in the deadly bomb attack on the popular LGBT venue two decades ago.

Old Compton Street in Soho was brought to a standstill as Londoners joined friends and family of victims to mark the 20th anniversary of the attack, which killed three and injured 79.

Three candles representing the three people killed – John Light, 32, Nik Moore, 31, and Andrea Dykes, 27, who was three months pregnant – were lit by three young LGBT people from Mosaic LGBT Youth project, before the crowd fell silent as the London Gay Men’s Chourus delivered emotion-filled renditions of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and the Tom Robinson Band’s ‘Glad to Be Gay’.

A procession led by Rev’d Simon Buckley took crowds to St. Anne’s Church in Soho, where a 30-minute act of remembrance took place in the packed church gardens.

The service, which was attended by Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Cressida Dick, saw poems read out by LGBT Poet Laureate Trudy Howson, as well as relatives of Andrea Dykes and Nick Moore.

A spontaneous round of applause was given after Rev’d Buckley pointedly called on Commission Dick to ensure more police were visible on the streets of Soho, the heart of London’s LGBTQ scene.

The Admiral Duncan was filled with punters enjoying the start of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend when a bomb packed with up to 1,500 four-inch nails tore through the venue on 30 April 1999.

It had been planted by a neo-Nazi extremist who had also detonated devices in Brixton and Brick Lane in the weeks before, in attacks which had intended to target Britain’s black, Asian and LGBTQ communities.

The perpetrator – who hoped to be immortalised by the attacks and who we will therefore not name – was convicted of murder in 2000 and given six concurrent life sentences.

A judge later ruled he should remain in prison for at least 50 years.

Tuesday’s act of remembrance was coordinated by Pride in London and anti-hate group 17-24-30 NationalHCAW, which was founded ten years ago to ensure all three attacks in Brixton, Brick Lane and at the Admiral Duncan are properly commemorated.

The anniversary comes a year after a 20-year-old neo-Nazi sympathiser was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order for planning to carry out an attack at a pub’s gay Pride night in Cumbria – a sad reminder that the battle against hateful far-right ideology in the UK must continue.

Related: ’20 years on from the Admiral Duncan bombing, neo-Nazism remains an ever-present threat’