The family and friends of Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole gathered at his old youth centre in Bermondsey to unveil a memorial that celebrates his life.
Jimi, who died aged 20 in April last year after jumping into the Thames from London Bridge to save a woman struggling in the water, was a regular at the Salmon Youth Centre on Old Jamaica Road.
In an emotional ceremony on Sunday (May 1) at the youth centre, led by Bishop of Southwark Christopher Chessun and attended by local MP Neil Coyle, as well as Jimi’s parents and brother and dozens of friends, the community remembered the young Neckinger Estate man’s life and character.
Speaking before the ceremony, Jimi’s mother Olusankami told the News: “He was a kind boy, I am proud to be his mother. He made everybody laugh. He was so happy… he was special.”
The three-part memorial was unveiled after the ceremony by Bishop Christopher and Jimi’s parents. Made by children at Salmon under the guidance of artist-in-resident Eugene Ankomah, the two panels on either side say ‘Stand Up and Be Counted’ and ‘Don’t Turn a Blind Eye’. The centrepiece is an image of Jimi himself, made up of hundreds of small pictures of Salmon kids.
“The idea is that Jimi is the kids and the kids are Jimi,” Eugene said. The memorial has been treated so it is weather-resistant.
Jimi’s family said they were very happy with the tribute. His father Michael said: “It shows what Southwark as a community has done, particularly Salmon Youth centre. They recognise Jimi, what they did for Jimi was very good, the opportunities they gave for him. They encourage youth to be happy people.
“Jimi helped when something happened. We are so happy that the community, the Southwark people, they recognise Jimi for what he has done.”
His brother Omobolaji added: “I appreciate everyone, it’s such a good community. You see how they celebrate life and encourage young people. It means a lot to us as a family. We still celebrate his life, even though it’s sad.”
Jimi was very popular with staff and children at Salmon, youth worker Derrick Johnson said on Sunday. “If you’re feeling down, he was one of the people that will pick you up. He’s done that countless times.”
Derrick recalled a time when he took some kids up to Wigan on a residential trip, most of whom Jimi didn’t know yet. “The way he fit in with the young people that I took there was amazing. Literally within the same day, everyone knew him. He was very open.”
Olusankami and Michael both spoke at the service, as well as Omobolaji and another friend. Bishop Christopher and local St James’ church vicar Gary Jenkins both gave reflections on the meaning of Jimi’s life and his legacy.
Revd Jenkins quoted from St John’s gospel: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”