On the evening of February 10, 2010, 16-year-old Sarah Phillips picked up her mobile phone and sang Paolo’s 'Autumn' into it, without music. Sarah’s version was pitch perfect and she intended to sing the song at her Mum’s funeral. Four-and-a-half hours later, her Mother, Debbie, had died.
A family friend, Charlie Mole, added an accompaniment, video of family holidays were added, and it was posted on YouTube. It has since had over 350,000 hits all around the world and raised over £110,000 for research into cervical cancer.
Following an internet campaign, "make Autumn a single", it was released and entered the UK charts at No.49.
Debbie Phillips was born on 22 October 1961. After a brilliant school career, she went to Bristol University and in 1983 she was awarded a First Class degree in Law (with, reputedly, the highest mark ever recorded). At University she met her husband, Mark, and in 1984 they married.
They both practiced law, but in 1990 Debbie chose to stop working and became a full-time Mum. She and Mark had three children, Katy, Sarah and Jack.
Debbie had regular cervical smear tests and between 1990 and 2005 these were reported as negative, and when, by 2006, the cancer was finally identified, it had spread beyond her cervix and into her ovaries and lymph system.
Debbie fought the cancer for 4 years and on 11 February 2010, aged 48, she passed away. During her illness Debbie discovered that there was no research into cervical cancer therapies anywhere in the world, and compared with cancers such as breast and colon cancer there are relatively few treatment options available.
The Debbie Phillips Cervical Cancer Research Fund has been set up with UCL
to fund research into cervical cancer. The intention is that other mothers, daughters and wives will have a better outcome. Sarah’s “Autumn” is the start of that fundraising campaign.
To find out more and if you feel up for making a small donation, please click here.
Sarah’s 'Autumn' can be viewed on YouTube here.
Sarah’s single has now been released for download on iTunes and is available NOW for just 79p
Sarah, her Dad Mark, sister Katy and brother jack all attended Paolo’s Royal Albert Hall show on Friday evening and they even met Paolo at the aftershow party afterwards