Huge turnout at service, as those who knew him reminisce about the great physicist
Rain had been promised but, as with many of the gloomiest predictions made for the young Stephen Hawking, the threatened deluge did not come.
Indeed, despite the solemnity of the occasion, the Cambridge funeral of a man who throughout his life seemed to command as much admiration from the lay public as from his academic peers was something of a celebration.
The crowd, waiting to pay their respects to a man who died at the age of 76 but had not been expected to live beyond his 20s, broke into spontaneous applause as shortly after 2pm Hawkings coffin was carried aloft into the church of St Mary the Great, a stones throw from Gonville and Caius college where he had been a fellow for more than half a century.
Among those paying their respects was Carl Green, 42, from Peterborough. Standing with his young son, who had discovered Hawking through his numerous appearances in The Simpsons, Green had been waiting since 10am.
He was such a great person, Green said. I really wanted to be here to see him have a great send-off.
Like many in the multicultural crowd, which stretched along both sides of Cambridges famous Kings Parade, Green admitted he knew little about Hawkings work, but admired the physicists character, in particular his refusal to be defined by the motor neurone disease that eventually robbed him of voice and movement.