The mother of murdered Sophie Lancaster will be laid to rest with her daughter following her sudden death. Sophie died aged 20 after being kicked to death in Lancashire because she was dressed as a goth.
Her mother Sylvia Lancaster spent years campaigning and set up a foundation which worked to challenge prejudice. She was awarded an OBE in 2014 for her campaigning on hate crime.
After a period of ill health she died in Blackburn hospital last month, weeks after one of her daughter’s killers was freed. Now details of her funeral have been revealed.
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A message posted on Twitter by her son Adam read: “It has been a tough couple of weeks since we lost my Mum, thank you for all your support. We know how much Sylvia meant to other people too.
“You are welcome to join us next Thursday as we commemorate her life, and she will then be laid to rest with Sophie. Thanks, Adam.” A service of commemoration is due to held in Whitworth near Rochdale before Sylvia is laid to rest with her daughter de ella at Whitworth Cemetery.
People are being asked to wear pink, which was Sylvia’s favorite colour. Sophie was murdered and her boyfriend de ella, Robert Maltby badly beaten at Stubbylee Park in Bacup on August 11, 2007 by teenagers Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris in what a judge described as a ‘feral’ and ‘savage’ attack.
The couple were beaten so badly that when paramedics arrived they could not tell if they were male or female. Sophie, 20, was placed on a life-support machine. She died from her injuries in hospital almost two weeks later, on August 24.
Harris, who was found guilty of Sophie’s murder in 2008 and admitted the attack on Mr Maltby, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years. Last month the Parole Board said Herbert, now 30, can be released from prison after making ‘significant changes to his life’.
Sylvia described being ‘very disappointed’ at the decision. “Her attackers may not have been given a life sentence, but I have,” she said.
Herbert, was 16 when he was jailed for life in 2008 and ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years in prison. His sentence was later reduced to 14 and half years on appeal.
In a statement following Sylvia’s death, the Sophie Lancaster Foundation said: “This is the hardest statement to write. It is with great shock and disbelief that we announce that Sylvia Lancaster has passed away. She died early this morning in Blackburn hospital. She had Suffered from ill health for the last couple of years, but her death was sudden and unexpected. Sylvia had such a powerful life force; we cannot imagine a world without her in it.
“Following Sophie’s brutal murder, Sylvia put her energy into championing people from alternative subcultures and creating educational programs to tackle prejudice and intolerance. She worked tirelessly to combat the inaccurate and lazy stereotyping that all too often leads to violent prejudice and promoted a culture of celebrating difference; something that leads to safer communities for us all.
“Sylvia was formidable. She challenged authority and fought for what she believed in. Her legacy is that Sophie will never be forgotten, and her daughter’s name will always represent her mission – to Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere. She will be sadly missed.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.