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Stephen Sutton: A fitting farewell for an inspirational teenager

Staffordshire | News | Published:

[gallery] Thousands of people gave a thumbs up for Stephen Sutton today, as the funeral of the inspirational youngster took place

Well-wishers were up at the crack of dawn to start queuing in the shadows of the 800-year-old building's three spires before the two-day vigil comes to a close.

Hundreds lined the streets of Burntwood and Lichfield as Stephen's body travelled in a horse-drawn carriage from his home town to the cathedral city yesterday evening.

Mourners dressed in bright colours - particularly yellow - to celebrate 19-year-old's life.

He died two weeks ago from terminal cancer after a courageous fight which saw his zest for life in the face of adversity inspire a nation.

His fundraising drive yesterday fittingly surpassed the £4 million mark.

There were long queues snaking around the cathedral's grounds before its doors closed at midnight.

Hundreds more had gathered by they time they reopened at 7am this morning.

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At 11am today people all over the country were taking part in a mass 'thumbs up' to celebrate his life.

His mother Jane has urged people to 'do something good'.

Stephen's body is sitting in place of honour in the centre of the nave with people able to pay their respects by giving a 'thumbs up', light a candle, write in a book of condolence, and make a donation to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

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The vigil yesterday started with Tocatta from Symphony 5 as well as the Liverpool FC anthem 'You'll never walk alone'.

The Very Reverend Adrian Dorber the Dean of Lichfield led the ceremony.

He said: "Fully, vibrantly, without whinging, unselfishly, we can bring light to dark places and not be frightened or afraid.

"Stephen has shown us the sheer joy of existence in everything he touched, from being an A star student in school with hopes of a career in medicine to playing a very mean game of football.

"To running cross country, to playing the drums triumphantly with his band, 'Nothing Personal'.

"He has been an inspiration and we all want to share in that great sense of helpful, positive positivity.

"He chose to share his exuberance with us not his pain or regrets.

"For Stephen we hold him in our hearts as one of those very rare people who helped us live our lives with generosity and joy and a where unstuffy sense of fun."

Today, in the grounds of the cathedral, hundreds gathered to take part in a mass 'thumbs up' before a final service which saw drummers play out the coffin and a mass balloon launch.

Comedian Jason Manford, who was influential in promoting Stephen's case, joined the colourful scenes which saw a mixture of grief and celebration.

Nineteen balloons symbolising each year of Stephen Sutton's life were released by his family.

Outside, as his coffin emerged from the cathedral, the crowd of 1,200 burst into applause.

The balloons were released - followed by a much larger bundle.

Brightly-dressed percussionists in blue tunic coats and bowler hats played out the hearse in what seemed an apt tribute to Stephen, who was a drummer in the band Nothing Personal.

Concluding the service, the Dean of Lichfield the Very Reverend Adrian Dorber said: "It would be usual now, if this was a church service, to say 'rest in peace' but I can't imagine Stephen doing that.

"He'd say 'Live it up', so - one more time - let's give him a thumbs up."

The gathered mourners, on cue, raised a thumb, before joining in a final round of applause.

Siobhan Dunn, chief executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust, said: "What really matters is what you do with the time you have.

"The difference Stephen has made has been immeasurable."

Reporter Rob Golledge was at the vigil and provided updates through Twitter

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