Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Benedict Cumberbatch leads tributes at Stephen Hawking's memorial service

Benedict Cumberbatch leads tributes at Stephen Hawking's memorial service

Roughly 3,300 extraordinary British citizens are buried or commemorated in the Abbey, including 17 monarchs, writers like Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens, and Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, between whom Hawking now rests.

Hawking, the theoretical physicist and author who suffered a rare early-onset slow-progressing form of ALS for many decades, died in March at the age of 76.

A Service of Thanksgiving for Professor Stephen Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA was held at Westminster Abbey on Friday 15th June 2018, during which his ashes were interred in the Nave. Cumberbatch, who played the late physicist in the 2004 BBC drama Hawking, did a reading at the ceremony.

Vangelis, the Greek composer best known for composing the Oscar-winning score to the original Blade Runner and that song for the film Chariots of Fire, created an original six-and-a-half-minute piece of music for the ceremony that uses Hawking's voice towards the middle.

One thousand members of the public, from more than 100 countries, were offered the opportunity to attend the service, after a ballot attracted 25,000 applications for tickets. Professor Hawking's first wife, Jane, read a prayer, as did his daughter Lucy - an alumna of Newnham College. In a dismissal that underlines his firm rejection of religious comforts, Britain's most eminent scientist told the Guardian in 2011 that there was nothing beyond the moment when the brain flickers for the final time.

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"It is a message of peace and hope, about unity and the need for us to live together in harmony on this planet", she said in a statement.

An address was given by Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, who first met Prof Hawking at the University of Cambridge in the early 60s, while Prof Hawking's collaborator and Nobel prize victor Kip Thorne also gave a tribute.

Hawking was a professor at the University of Cambridge and primarily studied black holes and the theory of relativity.

A host of celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch, Carol Vorderman and David Walliams today remembered the life of Professor Stephen Hawking (inset).

He also hypothesized that miniature black holes, remnants of the big bang, may be strewn through space, though he noted that they haven't been discovered. "I think that is an inspiration, really, for everyone".

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