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One year on: A friend's tribute to 'inspirational' Stephen Sutton

A friend of Stephen Sutton has paid tribute to the "inspirational" teenage cancer fundraiser, one year on from his death.

Lee Woodward's wife used to work at the Chase Terrace Technology College in Burntwood, Staffordshire where Stephen was a student.

Lee with Stephen Credit: Lee Woodward

He got to know Stephen after his wife came home from school one day and told him about the moment the teenager informed the school he had cancer.

My wife came home from school after attending an assembly which had clearly had a big impact in terms of what he'd delivered to the school on that morning.

He told the school he had a cancer, he told the school that it was deemed to be incurable and really he wanted their support in keeping things normal.

Also he decided to tell them that he was going to launch a Facebook page and he was going to blog his cancer journey.

I want to bed that evening with Stephen on my mind and I woke up with Stephen on my mind the following morning. I just thought, as a parent and a half decent human being, maybe - and I didn't know in what form - I might be able to help him reach the things on his bucket list.

– Lee Woodward

Lee decided to send him an email on his Facebook page.

Lee says Stephen was eager to meet up after hearing from him Credit: ITV News

And to his surprise, he had a message back the following day with a list of around 20 questions, asking Lee about his family and how he would like to meet him.

The following week we met up. I offered to pick something off his bucket list that I would attempt to achieve for him - or to support him in achieving it - and very quickly I noticed the selflessness of the guy was just incredible.

For me he was a perfect role model, to both young and old. Some of Stephen's core values were treasure every single minute, don't take anything for granted and the best way to help yourself is to help others.

When first meeting Stephen I realised he was quite unique. He had some wonderful, wonderful qualities and you couldn't help but just want to help the guy.

– Lee Woodward

Before he died, Stephen asked for support in breaking a world record attempt - the number of tandem sky dives in a 24 hour period. Despite being scared of heights, Lee threw his support behind it.

But the campaign suffered a setback as they could only attract 53 jumpers on the day and the current record was 251.

Skydiving was Number 2 on Stephen's bucket list Credit: Youtube
Stephen Sutton attracted a huge following wherever he went Credit: ITV News

Lee said it was also pointed out to him that his weight would be a problem and that he would need to lose four stone.

But in Stephen's memory, the mission to achieve Stephen's dream is back on.

Eighteen weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to lead the charge again. Through the media and through local friends (we've) developed 'Ste's army'... and thought if we all come together we could achieve one of Stephen's things that he didn't quite get to finish off. To me, that's quite special.

In 18 weeks I've lost 3.5 stone and I've got seven pounds still to drop but I've got 8 weeks to do it.

Personally it's been a challenge, but a challenge using Stephen's motivation one that I will absolutely achieve.

– Lee Woodward

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