Tributes paid to Cambridgeshire student killed in London Bridge attack

Tributes have been paid to Cambridgeshire student Jack Merritt, one of two young people who died in the London Bridge attack on Friday.

Sunday, 1st December 2019, 6:14 pm
Jack Merritt, 25, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire and (right) Saskia Jones, 23, of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, both formally identified by the Metropolitan Police as the two victims who died following the terrorist attack near to London Bridge on Friday. Picture: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

Multiple tributes have been paid to the “inspirational” Jack Merritt, one of the two people who died in the London Bridge attack.

David Merritt, Jack’s father, said his son was a “beautiful spirit” who “lived his beliefs” and that he was learning new things about Jack through the tributes paid to him online.

Writing on Twitter on Saturday, Mr Merritt said: “My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.

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“R.I.P Jack: you were a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog.”

Jack, 25, from Cotenham in Cambridgeshire, was a course coordinator of the Cambridge University Learning Together prison rehabilitation programme.

Tributes and flowers were placed on London Bridge after part of the police cordon was removed on Sunday and some vehicles moved from the bridge.

One tribute attached to a photo of Jack placed under a road sign read: “I have no words. You were so loved and so needed on this planet.”

Another card attached to the photo said: “It may have taken us a long time to realise we would get on but once we did I could do nothing but adore you for being the wonderful and wholly special human being that you are.

“You have been a light and rock to so many and we love you.”

Two large signs have been placed at the scene, with one reading: “I love you forever. I am so so proud of you.”

“You were always an angel,” read the other.

On Sunday, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge Professor Stephen Toope paid tribute to Jack and the other victim of the attack, both former students.

He said: “I am devastated to learn that among the victims of the London Bridge attack were staff and alumni of the University of Cambridge, taking part in an event to mark five years of the Learning Together programme.

“What should have been a joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative programme, hosted by our Institute of Criminology, was instead disrupted by an unspeakable criminal act.

“I am sad beyond words to report that a course coordinator, Jack Merritt, was killed, as was a former student.”

Professor Toope said that one of the three people injured in the attack - one of whom was released from hospital on Sunday - is a member of university staff.

He continued: “Our university condemns this abhorrent and senseless act of terror. Our condolences, our thoughts and our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families.

“We will be providing all the support we can to our colleagues, including counselling for staff and students who are affected by the event.

“We are grateful to the Metropolitan Police, to local emergency services, and to those members of the public - including students, staff, alumni and other participants at the event - who selflessly intervened to contain the incident.”

Thousands of people have posted tributes to Jack online, including Mercury Prize-winning rapper Dave, who wrote: “Rest in peace brother. One of the most painful things. Jack Merritt was the best guy.

“Dedicated his life to helping others, was genuinely an honour to have met someone like you and everything you’ve done for us. I’ll never ever forget.”

A vigil was also held in Cambridge on Saturday to mark the incident.

Mr Merritt said that he was overwhelmed by the messages of condolence and appreciation.

“Your kind words mean so much to us,” he said.

“Jack lived his beliefs He held me to a high standard; he would have expected me to say this, and would have pulled me up had I not!

“He was an exceptional young man, and I’m only finding out the half of it now he’s gone.”

“I don’t feel inspirational, but Jack was,” he added.

Police have named the second victim of the London Bridge attack as former University of Cambridge student Saskia Jones.

A statement from her family said: “Saskia was a funny, kind, positive influence at the centre of many people’s lives.

“She had a wonderful sense of mischievous fun and was generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people.

“She was intent on living life to the full and had a wonderful thirst for knowledge, enabling her to be the best she could be.

“Saskia had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment programme, wishing to specialise in victim support.

“This is an extremely painful time for the family. Saskia will leave a huge void in our lives and we would request that our privacy is fully respected.”