Stoke & Staffordshire

Stephen Sutton's £4.5m legacy: Where the money has gone

Thumb up and Stephen Sutton Image copyright Getty/Teenage Cancer Trust
Image caption Stephen's supporters chose yellow ribbons to represent their cause because of the colour's 'association with warmth and happiness'

On the first anniversary of his death, money raised by teenage cancer sufferer Stephen Sutton has reached more than £4.5m.

It is being used for specialist units in hospitals, training for nurses and support staff and establishing support networks.

Nearly a quarter of Stephen's total was donated after he died on 14 May 2014 - and people are still contributing.

The Teenage Cancer Trust called it a "tidal wave of generosity".

The 19-year-old, from Burntwood, in Staffordshire, was initially diagnosed with bowel cancer, which then spread to other parts of his body.

Image copyright Sutton family
Image caption The photograph of Stephen putting his thumbs up spawned a "thumbs up for Stephen" support campaign

When he was told his illness was terminal, he published online a "bucket list" of things he wanted to achieve before he died.

They included raising £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, playing drums in front of a huge crowd, getting a tattoo and skydiving.

But, it was the picture of him giving a thumbs up and posting a goodbye message on Facebook in April 2014 that prompted people from around the world to donate to his cause.

Where the money has gone

  • Units in hospitals in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Liverpool, Oxford, Nottingham and Sheffield received a portion of the money
  • Units in the Southern General in Glasgow and Alder Hey in the Park in Liverpool are due to open soon
  • Scholarships in young adult cancer care at Coventry University begin in September
  • Digital information about cancer for young patients has been made available
  • Peer-to-peer support events where young people with cancer come together and support each other have been held
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Children paid tribute to the teenager by writing messages on paper cut-outs of thumbs

Comedian Jason Manford became an unofficial spokesman for Stephen's campaign after visiting him in hospital.

He launched the campaign #thumbsupforStephen, asking people to share selfies promoting the cause.

An event at Chasetown Football Club is due to mark the anniversary, when people will put their thumbs up, release yellow balloons and contribute to a book of reflections.

Stephen's mother Jane said the balloon release will be both a celebration of life and a relinquishing of grief.

"Today marks the end of one and the start of a new chapter of Stephen's journey. He may no longer be with us in person... but his influence will remain.

"He demonstrated how incredibly powerful small positive acts can be when lots of people get involved.

"Of course I miss Stephen, there's an enormous void which he used to occupy. However, I'm so proud of everything he has achieved."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A quote from Stephen Sutton was displayed on a big screen inside the stadium during the FA Cup match between Arsenal and Hull City

Other events include a group skydive in July and a campaign "to spread positivity" by hugging, high-fiving and fist-bumping people and an attempt to "turn Burntwood yellow" in Stephen's memory.

Charlotte Aspley, who is organising the Burntwood tribute, said: "On 14 May 2014 we lost an inspirational young man, Stephen Sutton.

"The whole of Burntwood (and beyond) was adorned with yellow ribbons in a mark of grief, unity, love and pride for Stephen.

"What a wonderfully fitting tribute it would be if we could turn Burntwood yellow again. Please adorn your car, front door, garden railings with yellow ribbons to once again show your pride for Stephen."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Members of the public attended a vigil at Lichfield Cathedral

Michelle Aucott, from the charity, said Stephen was "an amazing young man who inspired so many with his powerful story and incredible positivity.

"Stephen's legacy will benefit so many other young people diagnosed with cancer in the future."

Teenage Cancer Trust will also be marking the anniversary on Facebook and Twitter at 11:00 BST.

Supporters are being asked to post their own "Thumbs Up" selfies online and remember Stephen using the #thumbsupforStephen hashtag.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Messages were written in a book of condolence ahead of a two-day vigil in Stephen's memory at Lichfield Cathedral

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