The mother of murdered Sophie Lancaster, who was kicked to death because she was dressed as a goth, will be laid to rest with her daughter following her sudden death.
Sylvia Lancaster who was awarded an OBE in 2014 for fighting hate crime died weeks after the announcement that one of her daughter’s killers was set to be freed.
Her son Adam has asked people to wear pink, which was Sylvia’s favourite colour, at the funeral of his mother who passed away in Blackburn Hospital last month after a period of ill health.
The 69-year-old, a tireless campaigner, founded the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in her daughter’s memory which worked to challenge prejudice.
Sophie was murdered and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby badly beaten in 2007 by teenagers Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris in what a judge described as a ‘feral’ and ‘savage’ attack.
Brave campaigner Sylvia Lancaster, pictured, the mother of Sophie who was kicked to death because she was dressed as a goth, will be laid to rest with her daughter following her sudden death
Sophie (pictured) was murdered and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby badly beaten at Stubbylee Park in Bacup on August 11, 2007 by teenagers Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris in what a judge described as a ‘feral’ and ‘savage’ attack
Pictured in hospital after she was attacked in 2007, Sophie Lancaster died 13 days later
In a message on Twitter, Adam said: ‘It has been a tough couple of weeks since we lost my Mum, thank you for all your support. We know how much Sylvia meant to other people too.
‘You are welcome to join us next Thursday as we commemorate her life, and she will then be laid to rest with Sophie. Thanks, Adam.’
A service of commemoration is due to held in Whitworth near Rochdale before Sylvia is laid to rest with her daughter at Whitworth Cemetery.
In 2007, gap-year student Sophie rushed to help her boyfriend as he lay unconscious and shouted at his attackers to leave him alone at Stubbylee Park in Bacup on August 11, 2007.
Herbert and Harris then turned on her, subjecting her to a ‘sustained and vicious attack’ which involved her head being kicked and stamped on until she too lost consciousness.
Sophie never regained consciousness and died in hospital 14 days later.
It appeared the couple were attacked because they looked and dressed differently and Herbert later told people there were ‘two moshers nearly dead’ in the park, according to court hearings.
The couple were beaten so badly that when paramedics arrived they could not tell if they were male or female.
Earlier this year, it was revealed, Ryan Herbert, one of Sophie’s killers, would be released from prison on licence following a ruling by the Parole Board.
Herbert, was 16 when he was jailed for life in 2008 and ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years in prison, later reduced to 14 and a half years on appeal.
Last month the Parole Board said Herbert, now 30, can be released from prison after making ‘significant changes to his life’.
‘After considering the circumstances of his offending and examining the evidence for the progress made while in custody, the panel was satisfied that Mr Herbert was suitable for release,’ a document setting out the decision said.
In a statement Sylvia, who was awarded an OBE in 2014 for her campaigning on hate crime and worked with young offenders before Sophie’s murder, said she was ‘very disappointed’.
She added: ‘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.
‘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.’
Harris, who was found guilty of Sophie’s murder in 2008 and admitted the attack on Mr Maltby, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.
Daniel Mallett, Danny Hulme and Joseph Hulme who were also convicted for their part in the assault on Robert Maltby and Sophie Lancaster in August 2007.
Ryan Herbert (pictured in his police mugshot issued in 2008) was 16 when he and a group of friends viciously beat Robert Maltby and Sophie Lancaster in a park in Bacup, Lancashire
(Left to right) Daniel Mallett, Danny Hulme and Joseph Hulme who were also convicted for their part in the assault on Robert Maltby and Sophie Lancaster in August 2007
Herbert admitted assault causing grievous bodily harm with intent on Robert Maltby (pictured left ahead of Sophie’s funeral at the Riverside Centre in Whitworth, Lancashire, in 2007). Brendan Harris (pictured, right,), who was found guilty of Sophie’s murder in 2008 and admitted the attack on Mr Maltby, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.
Sylvia, who founded the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in her daughter’s memory which worked to challenge prejudice, passed away in Blackburn Hospital last month after a period of ill health and weeks after one of her daughter’s killers was freed
At the time of his crimes Herbert had an ‘anti-social lifestyle’ and spent time with ‘negative friends’ who he had a ‘misguided sense of loyalty’ towards, drank and took drugs, the parole papers said.
Herbert’s behaviour behind bars had ‘initially been poor’ but this changed once he moved into an adult prison and he had taken part in rehabilitation programmes.
After being moved into an open prison in November 2020, he ‘improved his education with studies to degree level’ and had ‘fully engaged with resettlement activities’ including spending time on temporary release from jail.
He had a job and there was ‘positive feedback about his work’.
The document added: ‘No concerns about compliance had been identified and Mr Herbert had good working relationships with professional staff.’
Witnesses, including his probation officer, recommended he be released on licence. Herbert, who became eligible for release in February, will be subject to restrictions on his movements, where he lives and who he contacts.
It is not clear whether Herbert has actually yet been released from prison.
In 2015, the BBC made a programme called ‘Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster’ about the killing.
Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Sylvia Lancaster, praised her as ‘incredible’ and said in April: ‘It was a privilege to know and work alongside Sylvia over many years.’
In a statement last month, the Sophie Lancaster Foundation said: ‘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.
‘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.’