Old Albanian Stephen Hawking dies aged 76
PUBLISHED: 09:23 14 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:25 14 March 2018
The school which introduced Stephen Hawking to science has paid tribute to him following his death, aged 76.
He passed away yesterday morning at his home in Cambridgeshire, according to his family, drawing a close to a life spent exploring space and, famously, the black hole phenomena, making revolutionary discoveries about their behaviour.
He was diagnosed at age 22 with motor neurone disease and given only a few years to live, yet defied his doctor’s expectations and used his time to write A Brief History of Time, which has sold over 10m copies since it was first published in 1988.
Professor Hawking attended St Albans School from 1952 until 1959 and after leaving he has regularly returned to help fundraise for his alma mater. This included when it wanted to expand its science and performing arts facilities to double the number of bursaries and scholarships it could offer to pupils like the professor, who was given a grant to attend.
His family lived in the city and on an appearance on Desert Island Discs in 1992 he said: “We may have seemed eccentric by the standards of St Albans which was a pretty staid place when we lived there.”
He has also inspired many people at the school with headmaster Jonathan Gillespie and award-winning physics teacher Martin Guy both citing him as examples they worked to. The school has lowered its flag in tribute.
Mr Gillespie said: “The St Albans School community is greatly saddened to hear of the death of Professor Stephen Hawking, who was a pupil here.
“The school is immensely proud not only of his academic achievements but also the courage and resilience he showed through his debilitating illness.
“Professor Hawking remains an inspiration to our pupils and we would like to extend our deepest condolences to his family.”
Hawking also attended St Albans High School for Girls (STAHS) with his sisters between 1950 and 1953, when the school taught boys and girls together until the age of 10.
In 2015, The Hawking Building was opened at the school and featured state-of-the-art science facilities.
Headteacher Jenny Brown said: “We are extremely saddened to have lost one of STAHS’ finest stars. He was a true inspiration and his legacy continues to inspire our girls to unlock the universe of possibilities in our dedicated science labs, named in his honour.”
The Pizza Express on Verulam Road in St Albans was decorated with pictures of the professor, his first wife Jane was also born in the city and the two married there in 1965.