Eve Shepherd passed away earlier this month at age 14 from breathing problems. She was born premature and underwent more than 200 operations during her short life after needing a breathing tube at just three months old.
Eve was a huge fan of Cumberbatch’s BBC show “Sherlock,” and he had previously sent her a signed picture. After learning about her death, the Oscar-nominated actor sent a letter to her parents, Mark and Jane, expressing his condolences and apologizing for missing her funeral.
He wrote, “I send my deepest sympathies to Eve’s family. To lose someone so young who fought for her health all her life must be beyond endurance. I hope they can take solace from the fact that she was clearly much loved and her support of our show is hugely appreciated and shall be remembered. I wish I could be there but sadly am filming the show she loved. God rest her soul. With all my love and sympathies, Benedict xxx”
The letter was read aloud at Eve’s funeral in Warrington, England, on Monday (February 23). Eve was such a dedicated “Sherlock” fan that the service even incorporated elements from the show — the Daily Mail reports that some mourners wore deerstalkers, the traditional Sherlock Holmes hat, and the show’s theme song even played as the funeral procession filed out.
Eve’s father expressed his gratitude for Cumberbatch’s thoughtful gesture, telling PEOPLE, “It was absolutely unbelievable. We know that Eve would have been jumping for joy. For him to have spent time to write to us and to comfort us in such a very difficult time is incredible. We knew that he was a lovely man before, but to spend time when he was getting married and was so busy with the Oscars and the BAFTAs and everything else is amazing.”