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Funeral held for Professor Stephen Hawking

PUBLISHED: 14:06 31 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:02 31 March 2018

Professor Stephen Hawking visiting Kesgrave Community Centre in 2016. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Professor Stephen Hawking visiting Kesgrave Community Centre in 2016. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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The funeral of Professor Stephen Hawking has been held at a church near the Cambridge University college that was his home for more than 50 years.

Professor Stephen Hawking giving a speech at the Headway Suffolk Conference at BT Adastral Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNProfessor Stephen Hawking giving a speech at the Headway Suffolk Conference at BT Adastral Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The renowned British physicist died peacefully in his home on March 14 at the age of 76.

Professor Hawking visited this region many times over the years: the most recent of these was in October 2016 when he gave an inspiring talk to Headway Suffolk’s Neuro Conference at BT Adastral Park and then Kesgrave Community Centre.

During the talk he spoke about his own experience with motor neurone disease.

Five hundred of Hawking’s friends, colleagues and family were expected to attend today’s funeral.

The church bell tolled 76 times, once for each year of Prof Hawking’s life, as the solid oak coffin adorned with floral tributes arrived in a hearse.

A round of applause spontaneously broke out as Prof Hawking’s coffin was carried into the church by six porters from Cambridge University’s Gonville and Caius College, where he was a fellow for 52 years.

Actor Eddie Redmayne, who played the role of Professor Stephen Hawking in the 2014 biographical drama The Theory of Everything, gave a reading at the funeral.

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.

“Our father lived and worked in Cambridge for over 50 years.

“He was an integral and highly recognisable part of the university and the city.

“For this reason, we have decided to hold his funeral in the city that he loved so much and which loved him.

“Our father’s life and work meant many things to many people, both religious and non-religious.

“So, the service will be both inclusive and traditional, reflecting the breadth and diversity of his life.

“We would like to thank Gonville and Caius College, the University of Cambridge and Trinity College, Cambridge for their assistance with our father’s funeral service.”

Professor Hawkings ashes will be interred close to the remains of Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey on June 15.

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