Stoke & Staffordshire

Stephen Sutton: Funeral held after Twitter 'thumbs up'

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Media captionDean of Lichfield: "He's been extraordinarily courageous"

The private funeral has been held for teenage cancer fundraiser Stephen Sutton as thousands remembered him via social media.

The 19-year-old's coffin was taken from Lichfield Cathedral where more than 11,000 people have been paying their respects since Thursday.

Earlier, tens of thousands joined a "thunderclap" on Facebook and Twitter.

Stephen raised more than £4m for the Teenage Cancer Trust after being diagnosed with terminal cancer aged 15.

His body was taken for the private funeral after a service at the cathedral.

At 11:00 BST people were asked to send the message #ThumbsUpForStephen on social media.

His mother asked people to do something "that makes you and others happy".

Image copyright Various
Image caption Twitter users posted selfies with the "ThumbsUpForStephen" hashtag

People have been posting photos of themselves doing a thumbs up pose and Twitter said 11,000 tweets had been sent with the hashtag #ThumbsUpForStephen.

Comedian Sarah Millican wrote: "Here is my #ThumbsUpForStephen at 11am. RIP."

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Media captionHead teacher Stuart Jones "Stephen's spirit makes us want to be bolder and braver"

The Teenage Cancer Trust tweeted: "Incredible outpouring of support for Stephen."

Musician Toyah Wilcox tweeted: "God bless u Stephen....u inspired. Thank u."

Wolverhampton Wanderers wrote: "One big #ThumbsUpForStephen to celebrate Stephen Sutton's incredible achievements and positivity!"

Warwickshire Police said: "Remembering a spirited, selfless and courageous individual today."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Many took time out to join the "thunderclap" in the streets

Social media expert Luke Priest, from Social Media Buzz in Digbeth, Birmingham, said the success of the "thunderclap" in honour of Stephen was "very unusual".

"When you ask people to do something on Twitter a lot of people won't follow - trends are usually a response to what's going on in the world," he said.

"They're difficult to orchestrate.

"With Stephen Sutton I think it was a mark of people's respect for him that they chose to take part."

Image copyright Kate Bottley
Image caption The Rev Kate Bottley tweeted a selfie with the message "Rest in peace, rise in glory"
Image caption Well-wishers applauded Stephen's family as they walked into Lichfield Cathedral, led by older brother Chris

Stephen raised more than £4m for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity.

His coffin arrived to applause at the cathedral just before 19:00 on Thursday, when a short service was held.

An ongoing vigil was held until a second service started at 15:15 on Friday.

Dean of Lichfield the Very Reverend Adrian Dorber said there had been an estimated 11,000 people at the cathedral since Thursday.

He thanked everyone for their generous donations and said he hoped it had served as a "fitting place" for those who felt drawn to the memory of Stephen - "everybody's favourite son".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Stephen Sutton's mother, Jane, and his brother, Chris, released balloons following the service
Image copyright PA
Image caption Comedian Jason Manford (right), who championed Stephen's charity efforts, gave a thumbs up sign at the end of the vigil
Image caption Drummers were in front of the coffin after it was taken from the cathedral

Concluding the service, he 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."

Stuart Jones, Stephen's former head teacher at Chase Terrace Technology College, said he had known the teenager since 2008.

Mr Jones said Stephen became "the best role model".

He said: "He demonstrated amazing resilience. He was absent from school only on the days he was undertaking chemotherapy.

"It is hard to comprehend how he found the courage, determination and energy to achieve what he did in his last few years.

"‎It was no surprise when he achieved top grades across the board."

Stephen's achievements, brought together in a bucket list, included urging Mr Jones to join him in a 15,000ft skydive.

'Goodwill and love'

He said: "I hated it, as I expected, but am really glad I did it. His spirit makes us want to be bolder and braver."

Director of the Teenage Cancer Trust Siobhan Dunn said: "‎His mother Jane has asked me to thank you all for the outpouring of goodwill and love.

"Thank you from us all Stephen."

She said the charity would spend donations "supporting and developing" the trust's 22 UK units, outreach nursing teams, and youth support workers.

Nineteen balloons were released - one for each year of Stephen's life - by his mother and brother outside the cathedral after the service.

The cathedral said a book of condolence for Stephen had been opened and people were welcome to sign it and light candles.

Yellow ribbons are also adorning streets in Lichfield and in Burntwood in his memory.

Image caption Balloons were released after the service
Image copyright Joe Giddens / PA
Image caption Mourners also lined up to give Stephen's trademark thumbs up sign next to the coffin
Image copyright Joe Giddens / PA
Image caption Many of those attending the vigil signed a book of condolence

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