Sylvia Lancaster, mother of Sophie Lancaster and founder of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, has died. The news was broken via a statement posted on the Sophie Lancaster Foundation's official Instagram page just after 6pm this evening.
"This is the hardest statement to write," the post reads. "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.
"We are finishing for the last time using Sylvia’s sign off.
"Love and Light,
"The Sophie Lancaster Foundation Team."
Sylvia set up the foundation following the murder of her daughter Sophie in August 2007. Sophie and her boyfriend were attacked in a park in Bacup, Lancashire by a group of teenage boys, with police later linking the attack to the couple's goth image and alternative style. Sylvia saw the foundation as an opportunity to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by people from alternative subcultures, and received an OBE in 2014 for her dedication to tackling hate crime.
The Sophie Lancaster Foundation has worked with a number of music festivals over the years, including Bloodstock Festival and Rebellion. It was recently revealed that the person convicted of Sophie's murder, Ryan Herbert, has been declared suitable for release after 14 years in prison.