The Sunderland nightclub Connor Brown intended to visit on the night he was killed is hosting an evening in his honour.
Club Upside Down in Vine Place is set to hold a night out Connor, 18, never got to have after he was found just yards away from the club, in a back lane behind The Borough pub, with knife wounds.
In one of the final messages he would ever send on the night of Saturday, February 23, the popular teenager had texted his friend, club promoter Gabrielle Ferguson, to see if she could add him and his friends to the Club Upside Down guest list. Just a couple of hours later, in the early hours of February 24, he was found dead in a tragedy which rocked the city.
In honour of the fun-loving doctors’ receptionist, the club, which he visited every weekend, will host Smile: In memory of Connor Brown, named after his infectious grin, on Friday, June 14.
Proceeds from Friday night’s memorial event will go towards Connor’s Fund, as well as to charities which help victims of knife crime.
Promoter Gabrielle, 19, said: “I got the text at about 10.30 that night and got Connor’s name put on the door, he replied saying ‘you’re the best’. It was so devastating for us all when we heard what had happened. He was so well liked by everybody and we wanted to give the community the chance to come together and do something that Connor would have loved to do himself.”
On the night, Connor’s favourite drink, Cheeky Vimto, will be on offer and DJs including Chris Bungoni and Garry Todd will be playing tracks Connor used to love dancing to.
Fellow promoter Savannah McCabe, 21, said: “Nobody ever had anything bad to say about Connor. He was a nice down-to-earth boy. He would always be the last one standing on the dancefloor here, he loved a night out. What happened massively affected the town, and some people still haven’t been out since, but this is a chance for people to come together.”
Like many security bosses in the city, head of security at the club, Andy Dewar, from Armour Security, has stepped up checks on the doors in light of the tragedy.
He said: “The whole town was shocked by what happened to Connor. Knife crime is something you associate with cities down South, not here. After what happened we’ve made a conscious effort to do more searches on the door and have introduced metal detectors. “There’s also been a much bigger police presence at night. It’s important that people feel reassured about their safety on a night out.”
Friday night’s memorial event was rescheduled from May 25 which clashed with SAFC’s play off final at Wembley.
*Smile: a night for Connor Brown is at Club Upside Down, Vine Place, Sunderland city centre, from 11pm on Friday, June 14. Entry is £5 on the door.
*Leighton Barrass, 20, of Hartside Square, and Ally Gordon, 19, of Polmuir Road, both Sunderland, have both denied murder. A trial is due to take place on July 2. Both have been remanded in custody.