Tributes have poured in this week for a young father and talented skateboarder whose death has shocked the local community.
Chris Smith, 28, father to a six-year-old girl, is believed to have taken his own life on Saturday (October 4) after a 10-year battle with depression.
His body was found by worshippers in the churchyard of the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Upper Church Road, at around 1pm, shortly after he texted his family to say God had asked him to come home.
“He was a fantastic dad, a loving brother, and a loving son and a good friend to everyone. He never had a bad word to say about anybody,” said dad Ivan Smith, 52, of Quebec Road, Hollington.
“He hit a dark place and decided that it was his time to go. The last thing we got from him was that he had spoken to God and God had told him to come home now - that things were fine, and he could go in peace.”
Mum Kelly Smith, 50, said she would love her son forever. “My beautiful boy, I love you and a part of me has gone with you,” she said. “We will be together again and you will be there to greet me.”
Chris worked as a kitchen porter at the Rainbow Restaurant at the top of George Street, but his real love was skateboarding. A film released by The Source BMX and skate shop on October 31, will be jointly dedicated to Chris and Anne Pickard, late mum of the film’s editor Tom Pickard.
A popular man with two sisters and three brothers, all living locally, Chris was well-known to a large community in Hastings. Many rushed to leave tributes on Facebook.
Best friend Toby Shaw, 22, of Braybrooke Road, said: “He was genuine. He was kind. He was a sound bloke. He was real. Always true to people and true to himself. He couldn’t see that for himself. If he had seen what people think of him he would still be here today.”
This week candles and flowers were left in the Holy Redeemer churchyard as friends and family struggled to come to terms with Chris’ death. The coroner’s office is currently investigating, but police are not treating his death as suspicious.
Chris’ family all gave heartfelt tributes. Brother Ashley said: “I’m sorry you were unable to see how much you were loved by many. I never thought I would have to say goodbye so soon,” while sister Rebecca Smith added: “To our brother, and wonderful uncle to our children. We will miss you more then you could ever imagine. You have the most gentlest of souls. We’re all so proud of you.”
Younger sister Kim Smith said: “I love you Chris and miss you dearly,” while brother Josh added: “I hope you’re nailing some new moves with your board up there.”