Charlotte Dawson memorial a 'celebration'
"I hope you can see now how many lives you touched and how loved you were," Charlotte Dawson's sister Vicky said today.
She was speaking of her sister to mourners gathered to farewell her at a memorial in Sydney.
It was billed as a "celebration" of Dawson's 47 years of life, with the 300 people invited to this morning's memorial asked to wear bright colours "to remember Charlotte's colourful spirit".
Dawson, 47, a former model and television presenter was found dead in her Sydney apartment on February 22.
She was cremated in a tangerine Alex Perry dress and Rene Caovilla shoes in a private ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday, and a small group of friends gathered at her apartment for a wake that night.
Guests were invited to today's memorial by Dawson's former employer Foxtel, which approached Dawson's family and offered to organise it.
A red carpet was rolled out in front of The Beresford Hotel in Sydney ahead of the arrivals. Inside, the hotel was decked out in white, with white lilies and roses and five large portraits of Dawson adorning the walls.
Further large pictures were placed on the staircase that was lined with lit white candles.
An atmosphere of celebration was evident inside, with beer and champagne passed around to guests and rock music "thumping".
Channel Nine entertainment reporter and fellow New Zealander Richard Wilkins was master of ceremonies and introduced several speakers, including Dawson's former boss, Foxtel television director Brian Walsh, who said he was addressing the mourners with a heavy heart.
"I wish we weren't here today, clinging to each other for support and comfort on the last day of summer," he said.
He said it was "difficult to accept that life had become so hard" for Dawson.
"No one should have to suffer the darkness and anguish that took her life," he said.
"She always had a cause, she never stopped but the pain had to."
Vicky Dawson's eulogy recalled Charlotte's childhood and her cheekiness as a schoolgirl, to cheers from the crowd. She told mourners Charlotte was "here" with them as she produced a blue box containing the star's ashes.
Fashion designer Alex Perry paid tribute to some of Dawson's more outrageous behaviour, including the time she snuck out of St Vincent's Hospital for a cigarette.
"So we had a fag and then we went back into the psych ward and she was medicated,' he explained.
"We talked about dying, and when I said when we get to the pearly gates ... and she said "F**k that I'm going to the diamante gates."
The service included a seven-minute video of Dawson's life and ended with the song Happy by Pharrell Williams.
Despite the intentionto celebrate Dawson's life, mourners found it difficult to mask their collective grief.
Among her friends who gathered to pay their respects were Peter Mochrie, socialites Melissa Hoyer and Jill Waddy, politician Alex Greenwich, nightclub boss John Ibrahim, fashion designer Collette Dinnigan, modelling agent Ursula Hufnagl and former television personality Bessie Bardot.
Also present were fashion designers Camilla Franks, Alex Perry and Jonathan Ward, Channel Seven Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell, Ten entertainment reporter Angela Bishop, three of the Rabbitohs footballing Burgess brothers, Sarah and Lachlan Murdoch, and sport presenter Ben Fordham.
Another service for family and friends in New Zealand would be held in a few weeks, Vicky Dawson said.
"We are going to have a family-and-friends memorial service back in Auckland so her friends in New Zealand can say goodbye as well," she said.
"That won't be for a few weeks. We haven't set a date for that one yet, but there will definitely be something over there for her friends and family to say goodbye."
Sydney Morning Herald