Warrior Women of the Month: Sophie and Sylvia Lancaster

Weirdo, Mosher, Freak! If only it had stopped at the name calling.

This phrase has been commonly known amongst the Alternative subcultures for the past decade, particularly the gothic community. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the slogan set up by The Sophie Lancaster Foundation that was set up in honour of a brave, beautiful, artistic and unique young lady. Her name, Sophie Lancaster.

On Saturday 11th August 2007 in the early hours, Lancaster and her boyfriend Robert Maltby were subjected to an unprovoked mob attack at the skate park area in Stubbylee Park situated in Bacup, UK. The couple were walking home when they came across a group of teenagers; they attacked Maltby without provocation. When he was knocked unconscious, the gang proceeded to attack Lancaster who was trying to protect Maltby. When authorities arrived at the scene of the crime, the couple’s faces were so swollen from the attack that they could not ascertain which one was male and which one was female.

Both were hospitalised for their injuries; Maltby’s injuries left in him a coma with bleeding on the brain which he gradually recovered from but left with some memory loss of the attack. For Lancaster she was in a deep coma. After a transfer between units and hospitals, it was clear to hospital staff that she wouldn’t wake up from the coma. On 24th August 2007, her family agreed to switch of her life support.

This story is truly heart-breaking and tragic, one that sparked a huge reaction throughout the world. It is also one that created a great legacy and one that no doubt will be celebrated of another ten years down the line.

Since this tragic murder; a charity was set up by her mother to ensure a lasting legacy to her daughter, who was described as bright, creative and beautiful. It became a registered charity in the year 2009. The aims and objectives are:

  • To create a lasting legacy to Sophie.

  • To provide educational group-works that will challenge the prejudice and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures.

  • To campaign to have the UK Hate Crime legislation extended to include people from alternative subcultures or Lifestyle and Dress.

Speaking as an avid member of the Rocker/Metalhead community, they have certainly created a lasting legacy with this amazing charity. It’s highly supported within this particular community and the campaign receives tremendous backing each time at festivals and gigs around the country. Particularly at the Metal festival Bloodstock Open Air where in 2009, they renamed one of their stages after her and still holds that name to this day. Bands have show their support for this cause; UK Heavy Metal troupe Beholder released their single ‘Never Take Us Down’ and Dutch Symphonic Metallers Delain releasing their infamous anthem ‘We Are The Others’.

Both these women more than deserve the award of Warrior Women of the Month. Sylvia Lancaster for setting up this remarkable charity for an amazing cause, it has caused great impact in that it led Greater Manchester Police being the first Police Authority to record and monitor hate crimes and incidents against people from Alternative Subcultures. It’s gaining well deserved support and will continue to do so. All her hard work is definitely showing through media appearances, education packages available and being awarded an OBE for her services to eradicate discrimination.

Sophie Lancaster was described as beautiful, artistic, creative and unique by her family and friends. If the recent drama ‘Murdered For Being Different’ is anything to go on, it showed that she was never afraid to show the world who she was. From this notion, it reinforces that notion that it’s more than OK to be different, more than OK to show your true self to the world no matter how many people tell you no.

Be yourself, be true to who you are. We are the others, be proud of that.

#LottyWhittingham #Issue7 #WarriorWoman #Featured

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