THE inspirational actions of teenage cancer sufferer Stephen Sutton are recognised today with an MBE in the Birthday Honours.
The award has been backdated to May 14, the day Mr Sutton died having earned widespread recognition for his positive attitude in the face of the disease, characterised by his trademark “thumbs up” sign, and his charity fundraising.
The teenager drew up a 46-item bucket list, including the aim of raising £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for young cancer patients, as well as providing specialist units in NHS hospitals.
By the time of his death, he had raised millions for the charity, inspiring people to donate via his JustGiving web page and his blog, Stephen’s Story, and earned widespread praise including from the Prime Ministers.
His mum, Jane, described how he had received a letter from the Cabinet Office shortly before his death asking if he would accept an MBE in recognition of his fundraising and services to the Teenage Cancer Trust.
“He thought it was an incredible honour to have been nominated and it definitely got the ‘thumbs up’,” she said.
“The MBE is a wonderful recognition of his amazing charity work and dedication to Teenage Cancer Trust whilst battling terminal cancer himself.
“It will help promote the continuing legacy of ‘Stephen’s Story’, which has created a wave of awareness, engagement and giving that will potentially transform what Teenage Cancer Trust can achieve.
“Although Stephen continually told all of us that he didn’t do his charity work for recognition, even he acknowledged that to be appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire was ‘awesome’.”
Siobhan Dunn, chief executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust, said Stephen was an “exceptional young man” who had created the single biggest fundraising event in the Trust’s history.
She said: “His achievements are outstanding and it is wonderful to see him honoured in this way.
“Stephen didn’t measure life in time, preferring instead to measure it by the difference someone makes. He has made an enormous difference to Teenage Cancer Trust and the seven young people diagnosed with cancer every day who need our help.”
Among his many achievements while he underwent treatment for 44-month for metastatic bowel cancer, Stephen also managed to go skydiving and play the drums at a Wembley cup final.
In a YouTube video, he spoke of how he did not want “to be remembered as someone who didn’t fulfil their potential” and despite not being able to become a doctor, he had stuck to his “core purpose” of helping others.
Before his death, he also said: “I don’t see the point in measuring life in terms of time any more. I’d rather measure life in terms of making a difference.”