Scots cancer teen Lily Douglas laid to rest in emotional ‘celebration of life’ attended by Arlene Philips and Lewis Capaldi

Thousands of Scots have come together to celebrate the life of brave cancer teen Lily Douglas who was laid to rest this afternoon.

A celebration of the 14-year-old’s life took place in an emotional service at St Matthew’s Church on Tay Street, Perth, at 2.30pm on Friday, February 11.

Dame Arlene Philips paid tribute with a speech at the funeral and Lily’s favorite artist Lewis Capaldi closed things off by singing his number one hit ‘Someone You Loved’.

Lily bravely battled Ewing Sarcoma – a rare type of cancer that affects bones or the tissue around bones – since 2017.

She arrived at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on Friday, January 14 to begin a potential breakthrough drug trial, but before doctors could get started, she suffered a brain bleed. Tragically the youngster, from Perth, died on Sunday, January 23.

Lily with Lewis Capaldi at TRNSMT in 2019
Lily with Lewis Capaldi at TRNSMT in 2019

The service had been coined as “a celebration of Lily’s life” and, although it was invite only, it was live streamed to over 2,000 people who tuned in to take part.

Dozens gathered on the street outside the church to watch the ceremony on a large screen.

Many were holding balloons and wearing Lily’s favorite colour, pink.

The ceremony started off with a rendition of Ellie Golding’s How Long Will I Love You, sang beautifully by a member of the GAMTA Theater School of Glasgow.

A crowd gathered outside the church to watch the ceremony on a big screen
A crowd gathered outside the church to watch the ceremony on a big screen

Lily’s stunning pink coffin sat front and center at the church surrounded by dozens of flowers.

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Rev Fiona Bullock welcomed guests to what she called “a sad day but one of celebration”, with Lily “now at peace”.

Rev Bullock said: “We celebrate that she lived her short life to full and we hope that everything planned today allows you to celebrate her life.”

The guests then sang ‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’ before Dame Arlene Philips took to the stage to tell of a ‘magical’ box Lily had gifted to her before she went on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.

Lily had befriended a number of celebrities over the last few years, but none more so than Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene.

She said: “In my living room there is a wooden box. On top of the box it says, Alene’s magical memories.

Dame Arlene Phillips made an emotional speech at the service
Dame Arlene Phillips made an emotional speech at the service

“Magical – indeed the gifts inside the box were magical. They represented my entire jungle journey.

“The box sits in pride of place, no one can touch it. It is from Lily – and of course her mum Jane who is always there behind her.

“I treasure it, not just because it is a fabulous gift, but because it has the word ‘magical’ on it.

“For me, the only way I can think of Lily is – magical.

“She represents everything magical. She enchants everyone who meets her. She is loved by anyone who has the chance to get to know her. And she spreads love everywhere.

“I feel to have spent that time with her. Her shining spirit gets inside you. Her smile burns a hole in your heart and it never, ever leaves you.

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“It is there when you wake up. It is there when you go to bed.

“Like a young goddess, her presence is all around – and it is all around us. How rare is that in life, that someone’s spirit can surround you and be inside you.”

Arlene told how Lily had blown her away from the first time she ever met her.

She said: “I knew from the moment I met her, this little tiny skinny girl that had come to meet me at Pineapple Dance Centre. I was going to watch her dance and it was only later that day I learned that she had just been diagnosed with cancer.

“This little girl shone a light in a way that I had never seen before, or even expected.

“Watching her dance, she danced like a 19-year-old, and she was so cool about it. It was so rare to see that kind of talent, I was astonished.”

Lily with proud mum Jane (L) and Dame Arlene Phillips at the Daily Record Pride of Scotland Awards
Lily with proud mum Jane (L) and Dame Arlene Phillips at the Daily Record Pride of Scotland Awards

Arlene continued by explaining how Lily’s “courage and inspiration” inspired her, the “biggest coward ever”, to go on I’m a Celeb.

“I dealt with the snakes with a calmness because I was channeling Lily through my mind,” Arlene explained.

The crowd beamed with tears in their eyes as Arlene continued to speak of her memories of Lily.

She concluded: “Today is a celebration of Lily’s life and I woke up today and said, I’m going to celebrate her life and share that little part with me, with a smile.

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“So here is my smile. Thank you.”

The guests applauded as Arlene left the stage before a prayer.

Family friend Kenny McLeod then shared an emotional poetic tribute to Lily as the celebration of her life continued before the closing hymn, Lord of the Dance.

Lewis Capaldi, who Lily met back stage at TRNSMT back in 2019, then took to the stage.

Lewis Capaldi sang at the funeral service
Lewis Capaldi sang at the funeral service

“Oh I’m nervous,” he said, before joking “If anyone’s phone rings, don’t worry it’s probably God ringing to say this is his favorite song.”

He then sang Someone You Loved to the crowd.

Songs from Lily’s favorite musical Wicked were then sang before the guests left the church to bagpipes.

Lily will now be buried privately on Monday.

During the service Rev Bullock perhaps summed up the mood of the ceremony when paid a poignant tribute to Lily.

She said: “Lily has danced her way to heaven where she has become the sassiest star.

“Let her light shine through us all.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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