stephen hawking march 2017

Stephen Hawking's touching final gift to the public is revealed

The world-famous physician passed away on 14 March

Gemma Strong

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Cambridge on Saturday to say goodbye to Professor Stephen Hawking as his funeral took place at the university's Church of St Mary the Great. At the same time elsewhere in the city, the late physicist's parting gift was also being delivered to some of those most in need. It has been revealed that Stephen paid for a special Easter meal for 50 homeless people, complete with decorations, at Wesley Methodist Church. A touching note left on the table told guests that the three-course meal was a "gift from Stephen", and organisers confirmed that the acclaimed cosmologist was given "a little cheer" before the diners tucked in.

Professor Stephen Hawking paid for 50 homeless people to enjoy an Easter meal in Cambridge

Alex Collis, east of England regional manager of Foodcycle, told ITV that Stephen's daughter had reached out to the charity, saying: "Lucy Hawking contacted me and mentioned that the family would like to make a donation so that while the funeral was taking place people would be sitting down to a hot meal 'on Stephen'. It was a really kind gesture that I think fitted well with the sympathy Professor Hawking felt for people who were having a tough time of things."

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A Food Cycle spokeswoman further added the donation would in fact go towards far more meals than the 50 provided on the day, but she would not disclose how much money had been donated. FoodCycle Cambridge collects surplus food from businesses and organisations around the city including Sainsbury's, the City Food Bank and Lensfield Road Farmers' Market, to put on a meal every Saturday.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of the city on Saturday to say their final goodbyes

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Meanwhile, some 500 guests were invited to attend Stephen's funeral service in central Cambridge, including Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed the professor in the 2014 Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything. The actor gave a biblical reading at the ceremony, and Astronomer Royal Martin Rees also spoke. According to the Evening Standard, a round of applause broke out as six porters from Stephen's former college, Gonville and Caius, carried his coffin from the hearse into the church.

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