Backpackers say thanks to Childers
AT least seven survivors of the Palace Backpackers Hostel fire will attend a 10-year anniversary memorial service in Childers today to remember the tragedy and the 15 mates they lost.
They will join civic leaders, members of the community and dignitaries including Deputy Premier Paul Lucas and British High Commissioner Baroness Valerie Amos for a 4pm service at the Palace Memorial Building, which was rebuilt and turned into a place of remembrance two years after the fatal blaze.
The half-hour service will include speeches from Mr Lucas, Bundaberg Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch, New Zealand fire survivor Richard Tempest and former Isis Shire Mayor Bill Trevor.
It will be followed by informal drinks and nibbles at the Isis Bowls Club, which all members of the public are invited to attend.
Cr Pyefinch said Bundaberg Regional Council had been guided by the wishes of the survivors as they planned the commemorations for the fire's 10-year anniversary.
“We wanted to hold a dignified remembrance of the event and Nancy Calder, who has kept in contact with a number of survivors and victims' families, was instrumental in getting some feedback on what they felt was appropriate,” she said.
“Most of them wanted the opportunity to say thank you to the people of the town who worked so hard in the relief effort, and to see those they'd shared this life-changing event with.”
Cr Pyefinch said the fatal blaze had had a huge impact on Childers and the region.
“Like everyone in Childers and Bundaberg, I was shocked that such a thing could happen,” she said.
“The thing that's in my mind most is that I've got kids of that age and you always worry when they go backpacking. You don't expect for them to go on that adventure of their life and lose their life in the process.”
Mrs Calder, an events development officer for the council, was integral in organising relief efforts in Childers after the fire and said the backpackers and their families had always been grateful for the town's amazing response.
“I think the anniversary is important to acknowledge for the town generally, but it's also the backpackers' chance to say thanks,” she said.
4pm: Memorial service at the Palace Memorial Building, including official speeches.
4.30pm: Drinks and nibbles at the Isis Bowls Club, at which others will also be invited to speak.