Sylvia Lancaster death: who was Sophie Lancaster’s mother, did she have an illness, and foundation explained
Sylvia Lancaster was the mother of Sophie Lancaster, the 20-year-old who was murdered by a group of teenage boys in 2007
Sylvia Lancaster, the mother of Sophie Lancaster who was murdered by teenage boys in a park in Lancashire, 2007, has died.
The news comes after the Parole Board decided in March that one of Sophie’s killers, Ryan Herbert, can be released from prison on licence.
Who was Sylvia Lancaster?
Sylvia Lancaster was the mother of Sophie Lancaster who, when she was 20, was attacked by a group of teenage boys in a park in Bacup, Lancashire, along with her boyfriend Robert Maltby in 2007.
Following the attack, the couple were taken to Hope Hospital. While Rob survived the attack, Sophie died two weeks later from her injuries.
It was widely believed by police and by Sylvia that Sophie and Rob were attacked for the way they looked, as they were both goths involved in the alternative subculture.
The Sophie Lancaster Foundation is a charity which was set up by Sylvia following Sophie’s murder.
In 2008, Sylvia was approached by Julian Kynaston who was setting up the makeup brand Illamasqua and said that the foundation embodies everything that the brand represents.
Sylvia’s work was then funded by Julian and, with his support, got the foundation up and running.
The Sophie Lancaster Foundation became a registered charity in 2009, after Sylvia met with Justice Minister Jack Straw at the Ministry of Justice to talk about including alternative subcultures as a hate crime strand.
The charity says that its aims and objectives are:
- To create a lasting legacy to Sophie
- To provide educational group-works that will challenge the prejudice and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures
- To campaign to have the UK Hate Crime legislation extended to include people from alternative subcultures
In 2010, Sylvia became a member of the cross-party hate crime Independent Advisory Group to the UK Government.
In 2013, Greater Manchester Police became the first police authority to record and monitor hate crimes and incidents against people from alternative subcultures.
The following year, in 2014, Sylvia was awarded an OBE from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in recognition of her work for “community cohesion - especially in reduction of hate crime”.
What did Sylvia Lancaster say about Ryan Herbert’s release?
Earlier this year, in March, it was announced that one of Sophie’s killers, Ryan Herbert was to be released on licence, 15 years after the attack took place.
Following the news of his release, Sylvia made a statement via the Sophie Lancaster Foundation which said: “I’m obviously very disappointed in the result of the parole hearing. Once again we have a justice system that fails to deliver justice.
“However much progress people make in prison, they have been given their sentence in recognition of the extent of their crime.
“The just at the murder trial described the attack on Sophie as “feral”, with the attackers’ behaviour “savage and merciless”.
“Her injuries were so severe, the paramedics attending the scene could not facially distinguish if she were male or female.
“How can you bear the reality of the level of violence my daughter was subjected to, and stack that up against reducing the minimum tariff because they have done well in prison?
“However they have progressed, the minimum justice for the family is them serving the sentence they were given.
“Her attackers may not have been given a life sentence, but I have.”
When did Sylvia Lancaster die?
The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which Sylvia established following the murder of her daughter, announced that she passed away early on Tuesday (12 April) morning.
On Facebook, the foundation wrote: “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 programmes 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. There will be much to say over the course of the next few months. Initially all our thoughts are focused on supporting Adam and his family in the coming days and weeks.
“Hold those you love a little bit closer today.”
Tributes for Sylvia Lancaster
Following the news of her death, many have taken to social media to post their tributes for Sylvia.
Among those reacting to Sylvia’s death is actress Julie Hesmondhalgh (Broadchurch, Coronation Street), who portrayed Sylvia in the BBC Two film Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster.