Coronation Street star pays tribute to 'remarkable' Sylvia Lancaster following her sudden death

Credit: MEN Media

A Coronation Street actor has paid tribute to 'remarkable' Sylvia Lancaster who died suddenly in hospital in Blackburn.

The mother had fought tirelessly against hate crime after her daughter Sophie, was kicked to death in a Lancashire park in 2007 simply because she dressed like a 'goth.'

Julie Hesmondhalgh went on to play Sylvia in the play Black Roses as well as in a docu-drama of the same name.

"Her courage was the thing that always stood her out from the crowd," said Julie.

"It always shocks me," she added, speaking of how the mother turned the tragedy into a campaign for good.

"I would just curl up in a corner and cry for the rest of my life, she set up the foundation very, very quickly."

Dr Lancaster set up the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in 2009. The charity runs outreach programmes in schools, universities and in the community to challenge intolerance of others.

It also works with the justice system and policing to recognise 'subculture' hate crime. Sylvia did not think current legislation went far enough.

In May 2021, with the help of Sylvia, Coronation Street based a story on the killing to highlight the issue.

Julie said her lasting memory of Sylvia was from doing the play, written as an elegy to Sophie by poet Simon Armitage - alongside the words of Sophie's mother.

Sylvia Lancaster in front of a picture of her daughter.

She said people would come and ask how she managed to perform such a harrowing story night after night.

The actor said, she would spot Sylvia in the corner of her eye selling wristbands with her daughter's name on for the foundation she set up in her name and 'getting on with the job.'

"She was a proper Lancashire mum," she added.