WHEN staff at the Beresford Hotel and Palmer & Co bars found out their beloved colleague Chris Smith had died they were devastated.

“It was a big shock for all the staff so we got counsellors in on the Friday to talk to the staff about what happened, and if they had anything to talk about with the counsellors, we have support within the company,” said Beresford Hotel licensee, Paul Flynn.

Smith, 30, for years had been a popular staff member at bars along Oxford St and when he took his own life on October 18, his colleagues wanted to memorialise his life in some way.

At first they considered holding a traditional memorial, but over time the event has morphed into a camp celebration of Smith’s life.

On Tuesday December 6, the Upstairs Beresford will host a massive party in Smith’s honour which will double as a fundraiser for mental health organisation, BeyondBlue. 50 per cent of money spent at the bar upstairs will also be donated to BeyondBlue.

“This is kind of a closure, we thought ‘we might as well do something big and raise some money’,” Flynn said.

“He’s (Smith) has been on the scene working for a number of years, so everybody knew him and a lot of people want to to donate their time.

“We want to put on a fun filled night, with DJs, drag performers and it’s a nice celebration of Chris’ life.

“And we want to raise awareness of the issue that affects so many in our community.”

Along with entertainment, there will be a large raffle with great prizes to help raise money for BeyondBlue.

The team are looking for photos of Smith to use in a montage on the night and if anybody has photos they are willing to share should get in touch with the Beresford Hotel via the events page.

Flynn said after news of Smith’s passing, many people admitted that he had been there for them in their time of need but had no idea he was feeling depressed.

“We want people to know it’s OK to not be OK, everybody is here for you and if you’re feeling down just talk to a friend,” he said.

Find out more about A Night for Chris here.

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