Fire report leads to reunion
TRAGEDY is one event in history which has never failed to bring people together.
tains Mayor Mark Greenhill paid a visit to Ipswich on Saturday to meet with his Ipswich counter
part Paul Pisasale, two months after 212 homes were destroyed in the region's worst bushfires.
But the visit wasn't only to pay homage to the people of Ipswich for their love and support during the tragic fires down south - it united the Blue Mountains' Mayor with his family in Ipswich.
On October 22, The QT ran a story on the front page detailing how Mayor Pisasale brought Cr Greenhill to tears with his message of hope.
On the front was a picture of an emotional Cr Greenhill.
"We had the biggest fires in the mountains' history," Cr Greenhill told The QT.
"I'd been mayor for four weeks. It was in the middle of the fires.
"We didn't know if we had lost anyone yet and 212 houses gone.
"I was in the middle of managing this and was in shock, and I get this phone call.
"The phone kept ringing, the city was burning and I took the call from the 07 number.
"This bloke says 'Mark, it's Mayor Paul Pisasale from Ipswich'.
"Immediately two things hit my head, the floods of 2011 and my family history there."
Cr Greenhill's father, Ron Greenhill, was born in Ipswich.
"Paul said, 'mate, I know what you are going through, but you're going to be okay'," Cr Greenhill said.
"He was the first donor to our Mayoral Relief Fund.
"He donated $10,000.
"We had a healing day for people who lost their homes and Paul was standing there on an esky singing Advance Australia Fair.
"His speech started with 'if you hurt one Australian, you hurt all Australians'.
"It was the first time, a month after the fires, I'd seen them walk away with a smile on their face.
"These people had lost everything and suddenly this bloke from Queensland, he bowled into the room and brought smiles to everyone's faces."
Cr Greenhill later received a phone call from Leone Hughes (nee Greenhill), of Eastern Heights.
Mrs Hughes was Ron Greenhill's first cousin, who she hadn't seen in 60 years.
"She asked me if I was related to Ronald Greenhill, I said 'yes, he's my father'," Cr Greenhill said.
"She had seen me on the front page of The Queensland Times."
In 1957, shortly after Ron's parents died within a short period of each other, he left Ipswich at age 22 and has never returned because of the bad memories.
"I told Dad, Leone is still alive and he said 'right, I want to go home', and here we are today."
Mrs Hughes was rapt to see her cousin - who she was very close to as a child - for the first time in six decades.
She said she didn't think she'd ever run into him again.
"When my auntie died, we had a clean-out and there were photos of Ron and I'd never really put them away," Mrs Hughes said.
"They were always there, handy. I thought, one of these days I will give them back to him.
"He might have been gone for 60 years, but he's never gone from our minds."
Cr Pisasale presented Ron Greenhill with a Born in Ipswich certificate at the Ulster on Saturday.
He said he and Cr Greenhill had become close friends following the devastating bushfires during October, uniting their two cities with care and compassion.
"At the time, I didn't know Mark from a bar of soap," he said.
"I wanted to let him know he wasn't alone, we're there to help."
Ipswich was pivotal in providing fire and rescue support, as well as much-needed donations to the Blue Mountains community.
The Tzu Chi Foundation alone gave out $180,000 in relief in one single day to families affected.