Stephen Sutton funeral: Hundreds of mourners pay tribute at public vigil
The public celebrate the life of the fundraising teenager at Lichfield Cathedral
Thousands of mourners have begun celebrating the life of Stephen Sutton this evening as a two-day gets underway.
The tribute started at 7pm yesterday evening when a short opening ceremony took place at Lichfield Cathedral. Readings included Dust by Elizabeth Jennings (scroll down to read the poem in full).
The around 2,000-strong crowd fell silent as his coffin arrived, before queuing to pay personal tributes.
Many wore yellow or bright colours, in accordance with his mother's wish that people should not dress in black as her son was keen to “put the fun in funeral” and make the occasion a “sunshine celebration”.
His coffin was transported via a horse-drawn carriage to the cathedral from his home in Burntwood at 6pm, as members of the public lined the streets.
The city was decorated in yellow flowers and ribbons in remembrance of the late teenager, who raised over £4million for the Teenage Cancer Trust through relentless campaigning.
The 19-year-old died on 14 May, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer when he was 15.
The vigil remained open until midnight, and reopened again at 7am this morning before a farewell ceremony at 3pm. Stephen’s coffin will then leave Lichfield at 3.45pm for a private funeral for friends and family.
His mother, Jane Sutton, called for the public to take part in a social “thunderclap” media at 11am today in memory of her son. A hashtag #ThumbsupforStephen is already in place on Twitter.
“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,” wrote his mother on the Stephen’s Story Facebook page.
“Do something that makes you and others happy in Stephen’s memory.”
Dust by Elizabeth Jennings
We are made of dust/
We are flying on every wind/
Blown to the back of the earth, stormed at, broken, defiled/
We are people of dust, but dust with a living mind. Dust with a spirit/
Grace goes to the end of the earth. Follows the dark act/
The thought, lying, wounding, distraught/
We are dust from our birth, but in that dust is wrought a place for visions/
A hope that reaches beyond the stars conjures and pauses the seas/
Dust discovers our own proud torn destinies/
Yes, we are dust to the bone.
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