Rob's appearance in Harry Potter means people listen to what we are talking about'
PUBLISHED: 11:04 26 October 2009 | UPDATED: 10:22 12 August 2010
A LIGHT shines on one seat amongst the thousands that sit empty and in darkness at The Valley ground. It is pitch black but Rob s blue Charlton FC shirt,
A LIGHT shines on one seat amongst the thousands that sit empty and in darkness at The Valley ground.
It is pitch black but Rob's blue Charlton FC shirt, emblazoned with the words KNOX, is clearly visible.
For 18 months the teenager's name and his association with the blockbuster Harry Potter film has captured the hearts of a nation ravaged by the horrific effects of knife crime.
He has been the focus of a campaign that in his father's words hopes to put the 'Great' back in to 'Great Britain', a country, that he says has fast become 'Grave Britain'
The Rob Knox Charity Dinner was held to raise funds and awareness for a charity in his name and progress the arduous task of getting the government to pass a mandatory minimum six month sentence for knife carriers.
"To see Rob's shirt lit up in the stand, it's as if he is here with us tonight. We should not be here but we are. Rob has given us a chance to make a difference. This is what this event is all about. We must change people's mindset, we must educate a nation and stop other children dying like my Rob," said Colin.
In an emotional speech at Charlton FC's North Stand lounge other families, who lost loved ones look on, tears in their eyes, pain on their faces but mixed with a raw determination to stop another youngster dying on violent streets.
Both Colin and Sally Knox sat alongside the parents of Jimmy Mizen and Damilola Taylor. If ever you wanted more evidence of the horrors of knife crime, that table alone had enough to last a lifetime.
"We have marched to Hyde Park, talked to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary at number 10. We have had a meeting at the Home Office and the ministry of Justice, visited schools, toured a prison, and we have lost count of newspaper, TV and radio interviews we have done. These are only the first steps along a hard road," Colin told a silent audience.
After a heartfelt speech, that had compassion, tears at times, laughter at others and desperation at the loss of his son the next his 15 minute rally received a standing ovation that seemed to last as long if not longer.
He added: "If this government found it had a problem with the economy, it would address the problem with changing the budget. If this nation had a problem with terrorism, heavy measures would be taken to counter that threat.
"The thing is, we do have terrorism on our streets. Ok it may not be Al Qaeda, but we do have people roaming our streets with weapons on them. We want them off our streets, into court, and given a custodial sentence."
Standing by his side was Rob's mother Sally Knox and their surviving son, Jamie. The proud mother told the 400 guests, including past and present Charlton players and managers and friends of Rob, how her eldest boy's role in Harry Potter gave them a chance to make real change.
She added: "Jamie and Colin believe that everything happens in this life for a reason. We lost Rob. But through the fact that Rob was in Harry Potter, we have been given this opportunity that so many families cannot have. We are able to stand up and make people notice about what we are talking about. Through Rob being in Harry Potter, people are listening."
Throughout the night two auctions were held. The open auction raised a whopping £14,500 for the Rob Knox Memorial Fund, with thousands raised in the silent auction. Lots included a VIP trip to Striclty Come Dancing and a chance to meet the stars, signed photographs of Daniel Radcliffe and golf legend Seve Ballesteros.
Sixteen-year-old singing sensation Tania May also performed to a stunned audience. She is expected to record a song written about Rob by his father in the coming months.
Plans to show a screening of the ant-knife crime film Cold Kiss, starring Ray Winstone, were shelved as production of the film continues.
Guests Barry and Margaret Mizen also support calls for tougher sentencing to work in conjunction with strong rehabilitation schemes.
Alongside the Knox family and other victims of knife crime they are founder members of Families United.
Barry said: "Anything to raise awareness and stop people from killing our children is desperately important. Families United is about like-minded people, who have lost loved ones to acts of violence, to come together, be it for support, advice, or help to campaign for change.
"Our son was not killed by a knife carrier but he was killed by a violent person. We need to educate people from a young age that violence and aggression is not the answer."
His wife Margaret said: "The pain will never go away. There is never a day when we don't miss Jimmy or think about him. We are prepared to do all we can to support others who have suffered similarly and stop others going through this unbearable torture."
Richard Taylor, whose son was killed just three months after moving to the country, added: "This is inspirational. It is nearly 10 years since Damilola was killed and since then many, many more youngsters have died. The government must listen, the country must listen, it's time for change.
"This film Harry Potter, it's grabbing headlines. It gives what we are fighting for a new dimension. The media like yours are making the public stand up and take notice."
Kent Police and the Metropolitan Police were also represented at the evening, with Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, sitting with the families throughout the evening.
He said: "Knife crime ruins lives and devastates families and communities.
"While that is still happening there is still work for us all to do."
All proceeds of the evening go to the Rob Knox Memorial Fund, set up to educate youngsters about street violence and respect for others and help support them pursue their dreams through donations and scholarships.