Thousands of mourners participated in a two day vigil for Stephen Sutton in Staffordshire, England this week. The 19-year-old died on May 14, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 15. Sutton spent the past several years relentlessly campaigning for The Teenage Cancer Trust. He raised over £4 million for the UK charity that serves as an advocate for teenagers and young adults with cancer and related illnesses.
It’s estimated that 11,000 people stopped by the Lichfield Cathedral in Satffordshire to show their respects to Stephen Sutton and his family. The city was decorated in yellow flowers and ribbons. The tribute began at 7 pm Wednesday and continued until midnight. It re-opened at 7 am Thursday until a farewell ceremony at 3 pm, after which Stephen’s coffin was taken to a private funeral for family and friends.
Sutton’s mother took to the internet prior to the ceremony, encouraging the public to honor Stephen by joining in a social media “thunderclap.” Details were reported by The Independent. Under the hashtag #ThumbsUpForStephen, people from all walks of life posted their own “Thumbs Up” pictures on Facebook and Twitter. Tens of thousands of tweets containing the hashtag were sent in the 24-hour period following the start of the vigil.
“Or you could give the thumbs up to a stranger, have a cup of tea and a slice of cake, think a positive thought, clap, cheer, or even perform a random act a kindness,” Jane Sutton wrote on the Stephen’s Story Facebook page. She also encouraged mourners not to wear black but to instead don bright colors and make the occasion a “sunshine celebration” because “Stephen wanted to put the fun in funeral”.
In the latest evidence that Sutton’s legacy will live on, a charity single will be released titled “Hope Ain’t a Bad Thing.” According to The Guardian, the track has been produced by the Neon Brotherhood, as a personal tribute by 40 musicians inspired by Sutton’s life. The song was written by Martin and Laura Stanyer and was produced at a music studio in Sutton’s home town of Burntwood, Staffordshire.
Mike Wood, who coordinated the effort and also plays bass on the song, says response to his request for musicians was “overwhelming… We had so many people that in the end I had to turn musicians away.” Stephen Sutton appears on the single delivering a speech he had intended for his own charity track and can also be heard playing the tambourine. “Hope Ain’t a Bad Thing” will be available for digital download on iTunes and Amazon this coming Monday.
Photo via dailymail.co.uk