Stephen Sutton
Stephen Sutton

The mother of record-breaking fundraiser Stephen Sutton MBE says she feels comfort from the pain of losing her son thanks to the knowledge he has helped so many other people.

Today (14th May) marks the tenth anniversary since his death from colorectal cancer aged 19.

He hit headlines after launching a bucket list of fundraising activities, while his “last thumbs up” post on social media saw millions raised in his name.

Since Stephen’s death, his mother Jane has continued her son’s work in raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust – with the charity confirming the total in his name has now passed the £6million mark.

She said:

“After Stephen’s diagnosis of incurable cancer, I was in awe of his bravery.

“His bucket list of the 46 things he wanted to do typified Stephen, ranging from raising £10,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust to hugging an animal bigger than him, to crowd surfing in a yellow dinghy – he was determined to squeeze every drop of joy out of life.

“There will always be a Stephen-shaped hole in my heart, and I miss him every day. But knowing that he has changed the lives of thousands of other young people with cancer for the better, and that he’s still making a difference to others, which is all he ever wanted to do, brings some comfort.

“Stephen really did appreciate Teenage Cancer Trust being there for him during his illness, and he was very aware that not every young person can get the charity’s support, which was why the fundraising aspect of his bucket list became so important to him.   

“So today I’d like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported Stephen’s fundraising all those years ago, and to the people who have donated or fundraised in his memory since he passed.

“It means the world to us, and we are so proud of Stephen and to have reached the £6million milestone in the tenth anniversary year.”

Jane Sutton

But despite hitting the £6million mark, Jane is committed to continuing the fundraising efforts.

She is starting a series of 16 challenges inspired by Stephen, covering every region in the UK where the Teenage Cancer Trust funds specialist units for young people with cancer – and hopes others will continue to raise money in her son’s memory.

Jane Sutton
Jane Sutton

Her first challenge will take place at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol on 22nd May where she’ll be reunited with Sutton the elephant, named after Stephen. 

Hugging an animal larger than himself was on Stephen’s bucket list, and Sutton, now ten, is the son of the elephant he got the chance to hug. 

Animal-lover Jane will be taking part in an elephant poo shovelling challenge, which she says her son would have found “hilarious”.

Jane added: 

“Ten years on since Stephen passed and seven young people every day are still hearing the devastating news that they have cancer. By 2030 that figure will rise to almost 10 young people daily.

“Like Stephen, I want all young people diagnosed with cancer to be able to access the support and services Teenage Cancer Trust offer, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop fundraising until that’s the case.

“With cancer in young people on the increase, and the charity struggling to find the money needed to grow their services, these young people need our help and support more than ever.”

Jane Sutton

“Stephen remains an inspiration”

The money raised in Stephen’s name so far has seen more than £2.8million spent upgrading and refurbishing the Teenage Cancer Trust’s units in NHS hospitals across the UK, £1.2million towards educating young people on spotting the early signs of the disease and £975,000 on research and training for nursing and healthcare professionals.

A further half-a-million pounds has gone towards improving resources for young people with cancer, while £140,000 has funded events bringing patients together to help tackle isolation.

Roger Daltrey CBE, frontman of The Who and an honorary patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust, said:

Roger Daltrey with Stephen Sutton
Roger Daltrey with Stephen Sutton

“Stephen remains an inspiration.

“He had incredible courage and spirit and was determined to live life to the full and make a difference to others. 

“He certainly achieved all of that. By sharing his story, he put the spotlight on what life is like for teenagers with cancer in a way that has never been done before or since.

“He raised millions of pounds to help other young people with cancer and since Stephen died, his mother Jane has continued his legacy.

“Jane remains completely determined that in the future, every young person can access the support Stephen had from Teenage Cancer Trust. In the face of such heartbreak that truly is incredible.”

Stephen’s connection to the charity began during his four years of treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the Royal Orthopaedic in Birmingham and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the city.

Jane said:

“Being on the units made Stephen realise that he wasn’t the only young person with cancer and gave him the opportunity to speak to other young people going through what he was going through. 

“His friends were fantastic, and all rallied around and always there.  But Stephen said that they couldn’t understand what he was going through – the only people who could understand were other young people going through the same thing.  That for Stephen made a big difference.”

Jane Sutton

His experiences on the units and at the charity’s events inspired Stephen to fundraise for them.

Jane Sutton with her son's bucket list
Jane Sutton with her son’s bucket list

Kate Collins, chief executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust, said: 

“Stephen himself said ‘I don’t see the point in measuring life in terms of time anymore, I’d rather measure life in terms of making a difference’ – and the difference he and everyone who has been inspired by him continues to make is extraordinary.

“Stephen shone the brightest of lights on the needs of young people with cancer, inspiring thousands of people to support us and helping Teenage Cancer Trust to expand our work.

“Young people with cancer need our support now more than ever and his mum Jane’s commitment to continuing his legacy by helping us continue our work is as extraordinary as Stephen was.

“We are all so grateful to Stephen, to Jane and to everyone who helps make sure young people don’t face cancer alone by donating to our work.”

Kate Collins

Jane is hoping to raise £300,000 through her 16 challenges – enough to fund an extra 10,000 hours of expert care for young people with cancer.

People can make a donation at www.teenagecancertrust.org/stephen or text THUMBSUP to 70470 to donate £10. Texts cost £10 plus one standard network rate message.

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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AnnS
4 days ago

What a wonderful legacy this young man has left. May it long continue.