Constable John Fletcher receives a hug from Janet Blake and Lyn Boston.
Constable John Fletcher receives a hug from Janet Blake and Lyn Boston.

Hugs show city is alive and strong

THE clean-up is almost done and rebuilding has begun but Ipswich was invited to have a little fun at the weekend.

The fun day in the Ipswich Mall brought light relief for many families who munched on the free sausages, watched their kids on the free rides and forgot their worries for a few hours.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said the day successfully showed that the city heart was still alive and strong.

“The work is happening but what we have to do is keep remembering that we’re a city that has to keep going forward,” Cr Pisasale said.

“My job is to keep bringing people to the city.”

The Sunshine Coast-based Hug Patrol visited the fun day to deliver free hugs to anyone who wanted one.

While some unsuspecting people were at first surprised, most accepted the offer with open arms.

The not-for-profit group normally visit festivals and markets but decided Ipswich could do with some extra comfort.

Founder Arcadia Love said the group wanted to visit Ipswich to spread some happiness during the recovery efforts.

“We feel like we wanted to say – we understand, we’re thinking of you and we’re here for you and a hug is there for people,” Ms Love said.

Members of the Hug Patrol hugged almost everyone who walked through the Ipswich Mall on Saturday, including two patrolling police officers who obligingly took part.

Brisbane City Bike Squad Constable John Fletcher and New South Wales Constable Tim Reynolds were paired together as part of an anti-looting operation.

Cnst Reynolds, who is usually based in Sydney, was watching television coverage of the south-east Queensland floods and jumped at the chance to travel north to volunteer.

The 28-year-old has been based in Ipswich and Brisbane for the past week and was due to travel home on Sunday.

“It’s been pretty devastating so it was a bit of an eye opener,” Cnst Reynolds said.

“I just came to help out.”

Ipswich mum Beverley Beitz brought her daughter Dannielle, seven, to play with the animals in the baby petting zoo.

“She loves any sort of days like this, with rides and animals,” Ms Beitz said. “I think it’s a great day; especially for the people who have lost everything.

“It’s good to have things to cheer people up.”



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