THE funeral of a remarkable young sportsman who has died aged just 24 will take place in Plymouth tomorrow (Tuesday).
George Stephenson succumbed to cancer at the end of September having fought the disease for nearly two years.
George, an old boy of Plymouth College, played cricket for Plymouth and rugby for Saltash and OPM at club first-team level and had been a county standard squash player.
To further his cricket career he flew out to Western Australia in late 2015, but within five weeks was back home in Plymouth after discovering a lump on his neck.
He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and embarked on eight months of treatment at Derriford Hospital.
George lost 20 kilos in the first few weeks of his treatment, but as he started to recover he regain some of the weight.
It was while George was being treated that he was introduced to CLIC Sargent and the charitable work they do supporting patients with cancer and leukaemia.
Music had long been one of George’s non-sporting passions – he was a drummer in a local band – so he was keen to sign up for a music workshop run as part of the support process by the charity.
George’s talent was quickly spotted and that led to an invitation to take part in a series of seven concerts performed by the CLIC Sargent Singers as fund-raisers for the charity.
Shortly before Christmas last year the tour opened in Gateshead where George sang a song he wrote in front of 2,500 concert goers.
The tour stopped off in Manchester,
Among the venues were the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester (twice), Exeter Cathedral, Norwich and the Royal Albert Hall.
Turnouts were huge for the concerts with around 5,500 at the Manchester concerts, 2,500 in Gateshead, more than a thousand at Exeter Cathedral and a full house of around 5,200 at the Royal Albert Hall.
As a fund-raiser for CLIC Sargent the tour was a huge success. More than £155,00 was generated at the Royal Albert Hall and £12,000 came in from the Exeter performance.
George was on maintenance chemo at the time of the tour, which enabled him to sing and play the drums with no real difficulties.
Speaking after the tour, George said he hoped the tour would expand in the years ahead.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have been included and would certainly go again if they invite me,” he said at the time.
“Initially I wasn't too nervous as I was playing alongside some very talented musicians and they made everything seem very comfortable and easy.
“I was most nervous by far at Exeter Cathedral. I had a lot of family and friends travelling from nearby to watch the gig, and I'd be performing my own song in front of them, and singing solo.
“I was very proud to be able to play my own song in front of so many people.”
Cricket coach Alan Swift, who knew George well after taking him on tour to South Africa in 2008 with Devon U15s, said he was more than just a talented sportsman.
“He was a thoroughly pleasant and likeable young man who made the most of every opportunity,” said Swift.
“George will be a sad loss to everyone who knew him.”
George’s funeral will take place at Weston Mill Crematorium in Plymouth on Tuesday, October 17 at 2.45pm.
Dad Phil, mum Jane and brother Harry have asked mourners to wear bright colours.
Donations can be made to CLIC Sargent either in the collection plate at the service or by going to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/displaySomeoneSpecialPage.action?pageUrl=GeorgeStephenson