By Aditi Khanna :
STEPHEN Hawking, one of the world’s best-known physicists, has left behind 16.3 million pounds in a will which he signed with a thumbprint due to his motor neuron disease. Hawking, who died in Cambridge aged 76 in 2018, put the large fortune in a trust fund for his three children and three grandchildren and also bequeathed 10,000 pounds to his loyal personal assistant Judith Croasdell, 71, according to a report in ‘The Sun’ newspaper. A legal note to go with the will notes: “Signed with his ‘mark’ because although able to read the will he is prevented by physical disability from signing it.”
The scientist ordered his academic awards and medals – including 13 honorary degrees, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Companion of Honour – be split between his children, Robert, Timothy and Lucy. Hawking’s 13-page will was signed in 2007 with his thumb because of his battle with motor neurone disease, which meant he was completely wheelchair bound and used a computer for his speech. The author of the seminal ‘A Brief History of Time’ went on to live for 55 years after being warned his life expectancy was just three years and produced great research during that time.
Earlier this week, his daughter, 49-year-old Lucy Hawking, said her father had received “brilliant, dedicated and compassionate” medical care at the Royal Papworth Hospital, in Cambridge, and therefore his relatives decided to donate his personal ventilator that used to be attached to his wheelchair to the hospital to play a small part in the battle against coronavirus. “As a ventilated patient, Royal Papworth was incredibly important to my father and helped him through some very difficult times. We realised that it would be at the forefront of the Covid-19 epidemic and got in touch with some of our old friends there to ask if we could help,” said Lucy Hawking.
“After our father passed away, we returned all the medical equipment he used that belonged to the NHS but there were some items which he bought for himself. We are now passing them to the NHS in the hope they will help in the fight against Covid-19,” she said. The hospital said the ventilator has now been added to its fleet after an inspection by the hospital’s clinical engineering team.