Tailor Chris Suitor one of last to see Stephen Clements on tragic day
'I have last pic of him ... it gives me some comfort'
POPULAR Belfast tailor Chris Suitor has said it plays on his mind that he was one of the last people to see his good friend Stephen Clements before the radio star's tragic death.
Stephen was with him in his Suitor Brothers shop on Monday afternoon, buying a suit and having banter with Chris, who later put a CCTV pic of Stephen on Instagram with the joke caption "I thought he was barred?" which his pal then shared on his own page.
Chris told Sunday Life: "It does give me some comfort, 100 per cent. That is the last picture of him living and it's the last picture he put out on his social channels, apart from the one of him and all his family that he put up on Twitter.
"We had such brilliant conversations and such very profound, very intellectual conversations about the world, about life, about what's going on and when he left my shop on Monday, which was late in the afternoon, we hugged, we kissed, we slapped each other's bum - that's just the way me and him got on.
"He was in great form. My shop is full of craic, full of banter, Stephen was fully involved in it on that day. Our conversations always left each other telling each other how much we loved each other in brotherly fraternal love."
But Chris could not help but become emotional as he candidly shared what was Stephen's last text message to him later that day, his voice faltering slightly as he read it once more.
He said: "He left here about two o'clock I think and then sent me a text. He sent me a message at five o'clock, he says: 'You're a truly unreal human being, light shines from within you. Much love brother.'
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"And that was the last message. But him and I, that was our chat, we bigged each other up all the time. I told him what a good guy he was, he told me what a good guy I was.
"At the end of the day we had no ulterior motive other than to inspire people and help people. There was none of this just doing it for the likes, because me and him talked about this."
As well as being a successful businessman, dad-of-two Chris (37) also branched out into Stephen's world of DJing and was encouraged by support from his friend.
And Chris, who regularly features on BBC Radio Ulster as a commentator, is particularly passionate about positive thinking and has enjoyed growing popularity on Instagram as a motivator.
But he admitted that learning the news of his friend's death the morning after he was in his shop was devastating.
He said: "Me and him were good and close. He was in getting a new suit and was in great form. And then you wake up the next day and he's gone and it's just woeful, it's just absolutely woeful.
"Because I'm one of these super-positive people and Stephen was my soundboard - me and him bounced off each other.
"We would have spoken very, very frequently and it was always with good news and good positive thoughts and just trying to keep everything going in the right direction.
"He was my biggest fan and I was his biggest fan. Some of the lovely messages over the last load of years that I got from him, I'll treasure them, because he kind of kept me going and I kept him going, you know, we bounced off each other and it was great.
"He was my soundboard and he got me - and I got him.
"That was where our relationship and our friendship truly blossomed. He knew what I was about and I knew what he was about. And in this world sometimes it's hard to find people like that.
"It's hard being positive, with my whole outlook on things, this is going to be one of my biggest struggles.
"Me and him did have this bond - and we bonded over what I'm now struggling with, which is how the hell do you find any positivity in this?
"If anything, the biggest thing that will draw me through this and draw everybody through it, is the memory of him and his big smile. Stephen was just an epic human."
Stephen's funeral will take place on Tuesday in what will now be a private occasion for close family and friends only, having originally been set to be open to the public.
On Friday night before the Larne and Carrick Rangers Irish Premiership game at Inver Park in Larne, players and supporters joined in a minute's applause in memory of Stephen.
Stephen lived in Carrick but also helped host many events for Larne, and his brother Gavin is a former commercial director of the club.