16-year-old Sarah Phillips recorded Paolo Nutini's "Autumn" on her cell phone in tribute to her mother, Debbie, who died of cervical cancer the next day.
Sarah Phillips, a 16-year-old girl from London, had said her goodbye to her mother, Debbie, on February 9th. Debbie had been fighting cervical cancer for four years, and she knew her days were numbered.
“I said: ‘I love you.’ She just said she wanted me to be happy, but she could not speak very much because her breathing was labored,” Sarah told the Telegraph.
“She was upset by what she would miss – our [her three children’s] weddings, having grandchildren. She would have been an amazing grandmother.”
So that night, as her mother slipped out of consciousness, Sarah decided to pay tribute to the wonderful woman who had raised her with a song: Scottish singer Paolo Nutini’s “Autumn.”
Sarah and her mother were both fans of Nutini’s music, and she thought that the particular song would make a lovely tribute for her mother’s funeral, but she knew that she would be too emotional to sing it then. So that night, she downloaded the song lyrics and recorded her own a capella performance into her cell phone. Her mother passed away the very next day.
When Sarah played her song for her father, he asked a family friend, Charlie Mole, to record an instrumental accompaniment for her beautiful ballad. Then the song was set to footage selected from more than 70 hours of family movies. The video was played for over 400 mourners at Debbie’s funeral.
“She was incredibly selfless – everything she did was for other people,” said Sarah. “I was always very close to my mother and we have always been a close-knit family. I have wonderful memories of us all together.”
Just days after her mother’s funeral, Sarah decided to upload the video to YouTube in hopes of using it to raise money to fight cervical cancer—watch it here.
The Phillips family has set up the Debbie Phillips Cervical Cancer Research Fund as part of the UCL Cancer Research Trust. If you were moved by Sarah’s beautiful tribute, you can make a donation to the fund here.