Sophie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in September last year, leading her family to use social media to document her battle before she died in her mother’s arms last month at the family’s Stubbington home.
Sophie’s bravery captured the nation’s heart after she appeared on ITV programme This Morning, before she completed a number of final wishes that included cooking with TV chef Gordon Ramsay.
With balloons and ribbons decorating the whole village in Sophie’s honour, hundreds of people from across the community have now paid their respect by lining the streets around the Holy Rood Church in Gosport Road, where Sophie’s family gathered for her funeral this morning.
Speaking during the service, Sophie’s mother Charlotte said she was ‘so lucky and privileged’ to be the mother to a ‘princess warrior who never gave up’.
Charlotte said: ‘Sophie brightened the world with her kindness for others, and we should all learn from this.
‘I hate the saying “she lost her battle to cancer”.
‘Sophie never lost any battle – she showed everyone just how much strength and fight she had.
‘Sophie was so much more than the cancer – she never let it change her personality.
‘She was with us only 10 years – but she has had more of an impact than some adults have other their whole life.’
Even while undergoing treatment, Sophie was focused on raising money to help others, selling painted ceramics to raise more than £6,000 for hospitals across the area.
A crowdfunding campaign in Sophie’s name has since raised over £70,000 for Alice's Arc - a children's cancer charity which funds research into finding better treatments for rhabdomyosarcoma, the rare cancer that struck the 10-year-old.
Vicar Richard England, who officiated the funeral, said: ‘This story doesn't have the happy ending that we all hoped it would from day one, yet still the amount of good and the impact that Sophie's life and her family are going to have on the world is something really remarkable and incredible.’
Family friends Beth Clayton and Mark Swanston said the service had been a ‘beautiful’ tribute to the ‘very brave and strong’ little girl.
Beth said: ‘She was so bright, smiley, happy, and very brave.
‘It’s really nice to see the community come together for her.’
Among those who had followed Sophie’s journey online and lined the streets to pay their respects was Fareham resident Paula Byrne, who said people across the whole borough had been touched by Sophie’s bravery.
Surrounded by a dozen other mourners across the road from the church, Paula said: ‘It’s like a big hug to the family from the community.
‘It’s lovely to see the whole community come together.’