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A world of difference: Marking 10 years since Sophie Lancaster's murder

On the 10th anniversary of Sophie Lancaster’s murder, we look at the work her mum Sylvia has been doing in her name, to protect those who identify with alternative subcultures

Sylvia Lancaster hasn’t had a holiday for 10 years. When she says this, it’s not with annoyance or exasperation but a kind of surprise. “It’s only when we’re chatting, you think, ‘Has it been that long?’”

There’s a reason for her lack of downtime. For the last decade, Sylvia has dedicated her waking hours to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, the charity named after her late daughter.

Sophie Lancaster, 20, and her boyfriend Robert Maltby, then 21, were attacked by a gang of youths on August 11, 2007. They had been hanging out at a park in Bacup, Lancashire. Sophie died 13 days later, while Robert was left with severe brain injuries. Five people, aged between 15 and 17, were arrested and jailed, two of them, Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert, for life.

The attack happened because Sophie and Rob looked ‘different’: they had piercings, coloured hair. They were ‘goths’ in the eyes of the police and press, and ‘moshers’ in the eyes of their assailants. Her death was picked up by the media as an example of ‘Broken Britain’ – political shorthand for a society that was increasingly violent and heartless. But there was another, more human side to what happened.


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