Tributes paid to talented Sunderland singer Faye Fantarrow whose fight for life touched the hearts of the city

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Tributes have been paid to one of the city’s brightest young musical talents and “rare jewel” Faye Fantarrow.

The family of Faye Fantarrow, 21, from East Herrington, say they are “beyond grief” as they made a devastating statement on Faye’s social media platforms to announce her death from a rare brain tumour.

Faye had just had her biggest musical break to date, signing to fellow Mackem musician Dave Stewart’s Bay Street Records and flying to The Bahamas last summer to record her debut EP, when she was diagnosed with an aggressive glioma brain tumour in September, 2022.

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It was a cruel blow for the singer / songwriter who had battled leukaemia twice in her younger years, beating the disease when she was just eight and battling it again in 2015 when she was 13. It’s thought the brain tumour may have been a rare side effect of those leukaemia treatments.

Tributes have been paid to "rare jewel" Faye FantarrowTributes have been paid to "rare jewel" Faye Fantarrow
Tributes have been paid to "rare jewel" Faye Fantarrow

Despite there being no available treatment for the tumour in the UK, hope lay in a CAR T cell trial at The City of Hope clinical research centre in California and the Sunderland community and beyond rallied round, raising £265,000 of the £450,000 needed for the trial through a JustGiving page.

Dave, who described Faye as “a rare jewel from the North East” pledged £50,000 himself, with his former band member Annie Lennox also donating £10,000 to the cause.

Faye was able to travel to America for initial cell retrieval and she went on to release the AWOL EP she made with Dave in February, however, in recent months her condition worsened.

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Speaking at the time of her debut EP release, Faye, a former St Robert of Newminster pupil, said: "Life very rarely goes to plan but the plan was always to write, sing and perform and I’ve been lucky to be able to do that.

Faye and her mentor, Dave StewartFaye and her mentor, Dave Stewart
Faye and her mentor, Dave Stewart

"AWOL is the title track from my forthcoming EP which I am so proud of and the fantastic opportunity I was given to work and record with Dave Stewart will be forever special to me."

Speaking to the Echo, she thanked all those who donated to her fund, saying: “They’ve given me the chance of life and I want to give my music back as a thank you.”

Faye’s EP release had come after years of throwing herself into her music, attending the Young Musicians Project in the city in her younger years and going on to establish herself on the live music scene with her soulful sound, winning the 2021 Alan Hull award for writing, tipped for the top by BBC Introducing and playing festivals such as Mouth of the Tyne and Stockton Calling.

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Faye passed away at home on Saturday, August 26, almost a year since her diagnosis.

Faye's legacy lives on in her musicFaye's legacy lives on in her music
Faye's legacy lives on in her music

Announcing her death on Instagram, her family said: “We are beyond grief. We are broken beyond repair. We are cast adrift, beyond despair.

"We are bereft of a love that outshone the stars, the moon and the sun.

"There is a gaping void in our lives that can never be filled, our beautiful, compassionate, intelligent and immensely talented girl has gone.

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"Faye fought with a strength and bravery that kept her with those she so desperately loved and who loved her beyond compare.

"Faye was the sun, the light, the life we all gravitated to and wanted to be near, she gave us joy, laughter, and the gift of her music, she was the kindest most generous soul who had so much living left to do. Shine bright my baby.”

Dave Stewart’s touching tribute to Faye

“I can’t put into words how devastated I was when, just after spending an amazing creative time with Faye last summer making her debut album, Faye found out she had this very aggressive brain tumour.

"Faye was a joy to be around full of fun, laughter and sharp as a razor - a true artist in every sense.

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"Being with her and watching her at work is a diamond stuck in my head, moments I will never forget. I’m lucky to have met Faye and her Mum Pam, two humans together battling against all odds for Faye’s survival.

"It has been both traumatic and beautiful to witness their strength and dignity and I am so sorry the world only got to witness Faye’s genius for such a short time. She is one of the true greats, a northern girl on fire with her lyrics and melodies. I loved her deeply” "