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Charlotte Dawson farewelled at final party

Were it not for the candles and white rose petals, you would have been forgiven for mistaking Charlotte Dawson's memorial service for a party.
Charlotte Dawson.

It was just the sort of party Charlotte Dawson would have loved.

Drag-queens mingled with rugby players, top-of-the-town businessmen rubbed shoulders with Kings Cross identities, TV stars talked to fashion designers and charity workers chatted with supermodels.

Were it not for the candles and white rose petals strewn about the upper floor of Sydney’s Beresford Hotel this morning, you would have been forgiven for mistaking Charlotte Dawson’s memorial service for a party.

“Which is just the way she would have wanted it,” said the late TV presenter’s long-time friend, Richard Wilkins.

Colleagues Sarah Murdoch and Megan Gale (from Charlotte’s Next Top Model days), rugby league players including the Burgess brothers and Anthony Minichiello, pop star Delta Goodrem, fashion designers Collette Dinnigan, Johnathon Ward and Alex Perry, Celebrity Apprentice co-stars Julia Morris and Nathan Joliffe, TV executives, joined friends, family members and a visibly upset former lover, Josh Laws.

Charlotte’s sisters, Robin and Vicki, recently arrived from New Zealand, told the 300-strong crowd how they had laid their little sister to rest on Wednesday.

“She was farewelled wearing a beautiful tangerine Alex Perry gown,” they said.

And then, setting the tone for a series of light-hearted tributes that later flowed, they pulled Charlotte’s ashes from a shoe bag “because she hated missing out on a party”.

Foxtel Executive Director of television delivered a beautiful eulogy, noting Charlotte’s ability to pull an eclectic crowd.

“As I look around this morning, the room is fill of such a wonderfully diverse cross-section of Sydney,” he said. “Old and young, gay and straight, conservative and the colourful. These are the people and this was the life of Charlotte Dawson. She was loved.”

Alex Perry reminisced about his “much-loved and sorely missed” friend’s raucous sense of humour, noting that even in the dark times, she was able to laugh.

Alluding to the depression with which Charlotte struggled, Alex launched a rallying cry to fight back against the kind of social media bullying with which the late TV star so publically battled.

“Social media can be a great thing,” he said. “But for someone who is fragile it can also be devastating. And Charlotte was fragile.

“No one has the right to say anything to anyone whenever they want.”

As photos of the New Zealand-born former model’s life flashed onto large screens and a tribute played of her more memorable moments on Australian television, Brian Walsh spoke of the private torment that Charlotte endured.

“We can’t for a moment pretend to understand the hurt inside that drove her to the decision. For underneath a veil of boundless energy and bravado was clearly an illness of which we know far too little.

“A condition that cripples the mind and grips the soul in an unimaginable pain. And the only relief for her was to bring that pain to an end.”

The irony was lost on few that the sense of isolation Charlotte must have felt in her last moments could not have been in more stark contrast to the hum of the packed room at her wake.

“She was loved,” said Alex Perry. “I only hope at the end she knew how much.”

If you are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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