Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

Prof Stephen Hawking funeral

Eddie Redmayne arrives to attend the funeral of scientist Stephen Hawking Stephen Hawking funeral to take place in Cambridge
Sandy Nunez | 02 April, 2018, 00:36

Up to 500 relatives, friends and colleagues are expected to attend the service this afternoon at Great St Mary's church. Thousands of people lined the streets outside the Great St Mary's Church to pay respect for someone they say wasn't just a great scientist, but a great man.

Photo: GettyBrian May, famed musician and astrophysicist, and Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, who starred in a film about Stephen Hawking's life, were among the celebrities at the service.

Hundreds of admirers of the physicist, who died on March 14, gathered outside the private service, applauding as the coffin, carried by pallbearers from the university, was taken into the church.

Further, the church bells were tolled 76 times, representing each year of his brilliant life.

The flags of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Trinity Hall, Cambridge and University College, Oxford are flying at half-mast in honour of Prof Hawking.

He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease aged 21 and defied predictions that he would only live for a few years, although his rare condition - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - gradually robbed him of his mobility.

Eulogies were delivered by Robert Hawking, Prof Hawking's eldest child, and Professor Fay Dowker, a former student of Prof Hawking.

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In a statement, Prof Hawking's children Lucy, Robert and Tim said: "On behalf of our whole family we want to express our huge gratitude to all the wonderful tributes to our father and to those who have sent us messages of condolence".

Today, his coffin was driven via a hearse through Cambridge, topped with white "Universe" lilies and white "Polar Star" roses.

As seen in video footage, his coffin was decorated with a handsome arrangement of white lilies, representing the universe that was such a big part of Hawking's life and research.

"For this reason, we have made a decision to hold his funeral in the city that he loved so much and which loved him".

The church where Saturday's private funeral service was held is near to Gonville and Caius College.

His ashes will be interred at London's Westminster Abbey alongside some of history's greatest scientists, including Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.