UK & World News

  • 31 May 2014, 4:23

Thousands In 'Thumbs Up' Tribute To Stephen

Thousands of people have posted "thumbs up" photos on social media in memory of fundraiser Stephen Sutton.

Using #thumbsupforstephen, the idea was launched by hundreds who gathered at Lichfield Cathedral for his public farewell ceremony, the culmination of a two-day vigil attended by some 10,000 people.

It was followed by spontaneous applause for the teenager who lost his fight with cancer on May 14 and whose fundraising campaign has raised more than £4m.

The hashtag quickly caught on and Twitter said around 11,000 tweets had been sent accompanied by #thumbsupforstephen in an hour.

Among those in the crowd was comedian Jason Manford, who helped the teenager spread the message online.

He told Sky News: "For everybody that's been touched by Stephen I think, even in your darkest moments and the times when you think you can't go on, just remember some of the words Stephen said and hopefully that'll pick you up."

Shelley Checkley told Sky News that Stephen had once given an "inspiring and awesome" talk to her children.

She said: "It was amazing to know him and always see him smile, always be positive, never, never sad.

"I've known him give help to adults with cancer and made them feel more positive, he was an amazing person.

"He's made me feel more determined that every day you do everything right and don't moan about things that are insignificant or petty and live every day to the full."

Among those posting photos online in tribute to Stephen was three-year-old Sienna Riley, who has battled cancer since she was 20 months old.

Her aunt Sarah Hancox, 31, said Sienna's family - who are raising money for her treatment - posted a snap because they had been inspired by what Stephen had done to raise money and awareness.

When he was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer, Stephen set about raising thousands of pounds for charity.

After Stephen posted a photograph online earlier this year, showing him giving the thumbs up while he was in hospital, the appeal went viral.

By the time he died the total raised for the Teenage Cancer Trust was well above £3m, and the figure has kept on rising.

Stephen's coffin left the cathedral accompanied by drummers from Pandemonium, who performed at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, to reflect his love of music.

He had said he wanted "fun" put into his funeral, and chose the colour yellow as his emblem to signify happiness and sunshine.

Stephen's mother Jane and brother Chris released yellow balloons in his memory and people left yellow bouquets outside the cathedral.

Ben Wigley, a friend of Stephen's, told Sky News that musicians had made a record called Hope Ain't a Bad Thing to raise further money for charity.

He said Stephen had heard the song and "loved it".

He said: "He was a pleasure to be around, it was hard not to smile, he lifted the spirits of everyone.

"He wanted for the funeral as little black as possible, to celebrate his life not mourn his death."

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