Professor Stephen Hawking's 'gift' to charity that helps the hungry

The family of Professor Stephen Hawking helped a charity serve up an extra-special Easter lunch on the day of the esteemed physicist's funeral.

Their donation to FoodCycle, which helps provide meals for the hungry or lonely, allowed the charity to host a three-course meal with extra Easter treats, and to decorate the Cambridge church hall venue with spring flowers.

Notes placed on diners' tables said: "Today's lunch is a gift from Stephen... from the Hawking family."

Alex Collis, regional manager for FoodCycle in the eastern region, said Prof Hawking's daughter Lucy Hawking got in touch on behalf of the family.

"The family felt they wanted to do something positive to mark the day, and support people in the local community who were having a tough time of things, something they felt Stephen would have wanted," said Ms Collis.

Around 50 people enjoyed Saturday's meal at Wesley Methodist Church in Cambridge, and they had a "little cheer in honour of Stephen Hawking before tucking in".

The three-course meal, made from food that would otherwise have gone to waste, included leek and parsnip soup, ratatouille and fruit sundae with cookie crumb topping.

The donation meant the charity was able to include "lots of extra Easter treats", and decorate the hall with "beautiful" flowers.

Last year FoodCycle served more than 6,300 meals in Cambridge and rescued 9,166 kg of surplus food from suppliers including The Cambridge Fruit Co, Radmore Farm Shop, Tesco and Booker.

Professor Stephen Hawking funeral
Professor Stephen Hawking, whose funeral was held at University Church of St Mary the Great on Saturday (Ian West/PA)

FoodCycle operates around the country, and has projects in Norwich and Peterborough.

Well-wishers lined the streets for Prof Hawking's funeral on Saturday, and spontaneous applause broke out as six porters from his former college, Gonville and Caius, carried his coffin from the hearse into the church.

Stephen Hawking funeral
The casket containing Professor Stephen Hawking is carried into the University Church of St Mary the Great in Cambridge, as mourners look on. (Joe Giddens/PA)

Up to 500 invited guests attended the service at the University Church of St Mary the Great in Cambridge, including actor Eddie Redmayne who gave a biblical reading.

Redmayne had played the role of Professor Stephen Hawking in the 2014 biographical drama The Theory of Everything.

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