THE SOPHIE LANCASTER FOUNDATION

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Three years ago, young Goth woman, Sophie Lancaster, and her boyfriend, Rob Maltby, were savagely beaten by a gang of youths, simply because they chose to dress 'differently'.

Sophie aged 20, slipped into a coma and later died from her injuries. Now award-winning poet Simon Armitage, author of the truly spectacular'The Tyre' and 'Eclipse', has penned a heart-rending masterpiece for BBC Radio 4 documenting the life and death of Sophie Lancaster.

Sophie was always an intelligent child who showed signs of wanting to be different from an early age. Her political conscience made her a strong-minded individual, a vegetarian and a pacifist, Sophie had left school with A levels and was getting ready to start an English Literature degree, sadly that opportunity was taken from her.

Following Sophie's death in 2007 her mother, Sylvia, along with family and friends, set up the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and have campaigned tirelessly to change attitudes in society, promoting tolerance, understanding and respect for all subcultures. The charity has one key aim, Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance, Everywhere.

Simon Armitage who has published ten incredible volumes of poetry and has received numerous awards including; Sunday Times Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes, a Lannan Award and a CBE for his services for poetry, has carefully scripted a series of poignant poems in Sophie's memory documenting her life and death.

Entitled Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster the BBC Radio 4 drama documentary uncovers the true personality of the Sophie before that fateful night in August 2007. It also reveals the thoughts of Sylvia, Sophie's mum, her voice, which intercepts the prose, was recorded in a moving interview with Simon.

Sylvia said: "I am incredibly grateful to Simon for treating Sophieâ's story with such respect and affection. The process of making the programme was emotionally trying at times but everyone was incredibly kind and Rachel Austin who played Sophie is a wonderful talent. I am really proud of the finished article and I know that it will help spread the message of The Sophie Lancaster Foundation."

For Sylvia creating the foundation was not only to create a lasting legacy to Sophie but also to provide educational group-works that challenge prejudice and intolerance, and to have the UK Hate Crime legislation extended to include people from alternative subcultures'or lifestyle and dress."

2010 saw the successful launch of The Sophie Lancaster educational game. The game, designed for year seven students, consists of 30 cards, which represent many common ethnic and religious social groups and subcultures; players are set a series of tasks, which challenges preconceptions and encourages development in problem solving and team working skills. The game revolves around issues of diversity and is successfully being used in a number of schools across the country.

To hear Simon Armitage's touching tribute to Sophie, tune into BBC Radio 4 on Friday 11th March 2011 or listen to it here.

To find out more information about how you can help The Sophie Lancaster Foundation please go to: www.thesophielancasterfoundation.com

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