Stephen Sutton, R.I.P. — public vigil precedes private funeral

Posted May 30, 2014 by Mathew Wace Peck
The funeral of Stephen Sutton, the charity fundraiser who died of cancer at just 19 years of age is due to take place later today.
Stephen Sutton
Stephen Sutton
Stephen Sutton / Stephen's story / Facebook
Stephen died peacefully in his sleep two weeks ago. He had been suffering from cancer, having been diagnosed with the disease at the age of 15. The young man drew up a “bucket list” of things he wanted to do and, as he ticked them off, raised money for charity, too.
Members of the public were invited to follow his progress and donate money to the Teenage Cancer Trust via his Facebook page, Stephen’s story.
It was here that news of his death was announced, by Stephen’s mother, Jane Sutton, on Wednesday, May 14. “The ongoing support and outpouring of love for Stephen will help greatly at this difficult time, in the same way as it helped Stephen throughout his journey,” she wrote.
On Thursday evening, at 7 p.m. BST, Stephen’s body arrived from his home in Burntwood to Lichfield Cathedral. His white coffin was carried to the cathedral in a horse-drawn carriage, with a floral display spelling out “STE” leading the procession.
The coffin was then conveyed into the cathedral for the public vigil, allowing the hundreds of people who had queued outside to pay him their last respects.
As reported by BBC News, the Dean of Lichfield, the Very Reverend Adrian Dorber, said, “Stephen’s all too brief life has shown us the triumph of hope. In the last few weeks he’s won the hearts and minds of people across the world and we are all the better for it.”
After the public “farewell” to the young man, a private funeral, for family and friends, is taking place this morning. Stephen’s mother said it was important to give members of the public an opportunity to say “farewell” to her “courageous, selfless, inspirational” son.
Yellow ribbons
Meanwhile, in Burntwood, where Stephen lived with his family, yellow ribbons have been appearing everywhere in his memory.
The idea of Amanda Mayling, also of Burntwood, the whole thing took off after she promoted it via social media. Mayling told the BBC that she had been inspired to do something after meeting Stephen at fundraising events.
This morning, at 11 a.m. BST, a social-media “thunderclap” will take place in remembrance of the teenager — whereby, through Twitter and Facebook, people have been asked to simultaneously, give Stephen a “thumbs up,” mirroring what he himself did in the video he posted online in April, when he believed he was about to die, to thank people for their support.
The Thumbs Up For Stephen event is being publicised with the social-media hashtag #ThumbsupforStephen and, as the Guardian reports, will coincide with his mother's request for people to “do something that makes you and others happy in Stephen's memory.”
That video saw his fund-raising efforts mushroom to, at the latest total, over £4 million ($6.5 million). The money raised is going to the Teenage Cancer Trust, and is the largest single donation ever received by the charity.
That total is likely to continue to increase for some time to come. For instance, the Download Festival, which takes place later next month, has renamed its main stage the Stephen Sutton Stage, “in recognition of his epic fundraising efforts.” Last year, Stephen attended the festival, which was on his list. Organisers said they had made the decision following speaking to Stephen’s family, adding, “We’ll also be keeping [his] fundraising going at Download, too. Rock in Peace, Stephen.”
Stephen Sutton, RIP.