Tributes following sad death of Richard Taylor OBE

23 March 2024

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UK Youth is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of renowned anti-knife crime campaigner Richard Taylor OBE, who set up the Damilola Taylor Trust following the death of his son Damilola in 2000.

The anti-knife crime campaigner died on Saturday, March 23, aged 75, following a long illness. Richard’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, March 23, 2024, at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer.” 

Richard made a huge difference to the lives of so many young people after channelling his grief at the tragic loss of his son Damilola, in November 2000, into a force for good. 

Richard Taylor holds a picture of his son Damilola. Picture courtesy the Damilola Taylor Trust/X.

Ten-year-old Nigerian schoolboy Damilola was stabbed with a broken beer bottle in Peckham, London, in what became one of the country’s most high-profile killings. Two brothers – who were aged 12 and 13 at the time of the killing – were convicted of manslaughter in 2006. 

Richard believed every young person should have the opportunity to live their lives free of fear and violence and, as founder of the Damilola Taylor Trust, worked tirelessly towards this aim, “supporting young people to live the best life they can as a legacy for Damilola”. Richard, who was made an OBE in 2011 for campaigning against violence, put his heart and soul into this and many young people have benefited from his work. 

UK Youth has supported the trust for many years and more recently was a founding member of the Hope Collective. The cross-sector alliance was launched in 2020 and works to end poverty and discrimination in the most vulnerable communities.  

‘Truly saddened’

Ndidi Okezie OBE, UK Youth Chief Executive Officer, said: “Everyone at UK Youth is truly saddened to learn of the passing of Richard. He was an incredible man who made a real difference to so many young people’s lives. 

“Richard was a dear friend to me and UK Youth. We were thrilled to work alongside Richard with the Hope Collective, working to establish real change and reduce poverty, violence and discrimination among the UK’s most vulnerable communities and celebrating young people’s hopes for the future on the Day of Hope, on Damilola’s birthday, December 7, each year. 

We commit to continuing Richard and Damilola’s legacy of hope and working with others to improve the lives of young people from the most vulnerable communities. 

Ndidi Okezie, UK Youth Chief Executive Officer

“We send our heartfelt condolences to Richard’s close family, including his daughters Gbemi and Florence and son Tunde, and friends, Richard will be hugely missed. 

“We commit to continuing his and Damilola’s legacy of hope and working with others to improve the lives of young people from the most vulnerable communities.” 

‘Legacy of hope’

The Damilola Taylor Trust was launched in 2001 after Richard and his wife Gloria, Damilola’s mother, met the then Prince Charles, with the aim “to provide a legacy of hope and opportunity for disadvantaged and under-privileged young people”. It states: “Every young person should have the opportunity to live their lives free of fear and violence, to dream big and face the future with confidence and optimism.” 

Early achievements of the trust included a partnership with King’s College London, which saw the opening of the Damilola Taylor Room, a study room for medical students from deprived areas of London, at the university. 

Damilola was a big Manchester United fan and Richard was delighted to have the support of England and Manchester United football star Rio Ferdinand, who grew up in Peckham – the Rio Ferdinand Foundation later becoming part of the Hope Collective. 

In 2006, Richard and Rio launched Respect Your Life Not a Knife, backed by then London mayor Ken Livingstone, then Home Secretary John Reid and then Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair. 

Gloria, Richard’s wife and Damilola’s mother, died in April 2008, aged 57, but Richard’s work continued, supporting The People’s March Against Knife Crime later that year. The march, led by The Ben Kinsella Trust, saw thousands of young people demonstrate in central London against knife and gun crime. 

‘An inspiration’

The Kinsella Trust, which works to stop knife crime, was founded by former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella after her 16-year-old brother Ben was stabbed to death by a gang of three youths in a street in Islington, London, in June 2008. 

Brooke said: “Richard’s courage in the face of unimaginable grief was an inspiration to me. 

“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. 

“I’ll never forget the powerful moment during the peace march in 2008 when, walking for opposite ends of London, our paths crossed in Piccadilly. We instinctively embraced, that single moment symbolised the unyielding solidarity of our movement and our shared mission to prevent violence.  

“We owe it to Richard’s memory to continue this fight and make our streets safer for all.” 

‘Profound impact’

In 2009, Richard was appointed then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s special envoy on youth violence and knife crime, while the Damilola Taylor Trust launched the Spirit of London Awards – commonly known as the Community Youth Oscars – to celebrate the talent of achievements of young people.  

Gary Trowsdale, Damilola Taylor Trust legacy director and Spirit of London Foundation executive director, said: “Having been a postman on the estate Damilola died on in the 1980s, the tragedy had a profound impact on me. 

“Getting the chance to support the Damilola Taylor Trust in later years, it has been an honour to get to call Richard a friend and colleague. Actually, we became more like family the longer we worked together and built projects that challenged the failing establishment where our most vulnerable young people concerned. 

“As a father myself, I marvelled at Richard’s resilience when the killings on the streets of London became a normality, rather than the global front page news it was when Damilola was killed. Each and every killing hurt him and he told me it felt like losing Dami again every time on repeat. 

“One of the most wonderful things about Richard was the way he always made himself available to other parents who suffered as his family had. He did this on the quiet and without publicity, reaching out through police and victim support channels  

“He became a national treasure and he will be sadly missed. I will miss him greatly and his legacy will now sit alongside Damilola’s as one of resilience and hope.” 


Richard was made an OBE for his efforts to tackle violent crime in the 2012 New Year Honours. 

Damilola, Our Loved Boy, a film about the events surrounding Damilola’s death was aired on BBC One in 2016, going on to be named the best single drama at the BAFTAs the following year. 

The Hope Collective, formed to mark the 20th anniversary of Damilola’s death, continues to work “to establish real change that enables the UK’s most vulnerable communities to be free from poverty, violence and discrimination”. 

Launching the collective, Richard said: “Twenty years have passed, but the memories are still vivid and the pain is still raw. It gives me great pride though that so many organisations are supporting this campaign to shine a light on the kind of positive young person Dami was turning into himself.” 

Through the collective’s ‘Hope Hacks’, national youth engagement workshops, young people can contribute their thoughts on issues that affect them, their lives and their communities – the 26th Hope Hack since mid-2021 was held in Scunthorpe in February 2024. 

Young people at a Hope Hack in Cardiff in 2021.

About us

UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. With an open network of more than 8,000 youth organisations and nation partners; UK Youth reaches more than four million young people across the UK and is focused on unlocking youth work as the catalyst of change that is needed now more than ever. To find out more, visit ukyouth.org 

UK Youth is involved in a range of programmes designed to help young people thrive, such as outdoor learning, physical literacy, social action and employability, including Hatch, a youth employability programme run in partnership with KFC. For more on UK Youth’s programmes, see ukyouth.org/what-we-do/programmes

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