Ipswich United: Communities united - 10,000 miles apart

IPSWICH, ENGLAND/ IPSWICH, AUSTRALIA: They are a world apart, but today the communities which share the Ipswich name were united in a common desire to re-build shattered lives.

Despite the vast distance between, residents and businesses in Suffolk’s county town have reached out to their counterparts Down Under in a show of neighbourly support.

Yesterday, residents of Queensland’s Ipswich were described as living in a “post war zone” and face a clean-up bill of more than $100million (�63m).

But following the launch of our Ipswich United campaign, their hopes were given a massive boost with the announcement of a huge cash injection to our fundraising efforts.

Today, the Australian boss of Ipswich-based UK Power Networks was moved to donate �3,000 to the fundraising effort to help his fellow countrymen.

Basil Scarsella, chief executive of the regional power giant, said: “I am still in touch with a lot of friends from Brisbane where the floods are,” he said. “The Star campaign is a great initiative. I donated the money without a second thought.”

Mr Scarsella, 55, hails from Adelaide in South Australia and said many of his friends had been affected by the disaster which has so far claimed at least 16 lives.

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With a large office in Ipswich, Suffolk, Mr Scarsella said he was pleased UK Power Networks could join the community to offer help to those in need.

“We should all support these people whose lives have been destroyed,” he said.

Nigel Pickover, editor of The Evening Star, met Mr Scarsella at the firm’s site in Bury St Edmunds yesterday to accept the cheque.

He said: “We are delighted UK Power Networks has come forward with such a generous donation to help people in such desperate need in Ipswich’s namesake town in Australia,” he said.

“It just goes to show what can be achieved when a community pulls together.”

Paul Winter, chief executive of Ipswich Building Society, followed up his company’s �1,000 donation yesterday with the announcement of an online fundraising site.

He said: “It really struck a chord with me when I saw all the images of those in Australia who have been affected by these floods. I would urge people to donate as little or as much as they can.”

Water levels in Brisbane have not quite reached those of the last major flood disaster in 1974. They were starting to fall significantly last night, but more than 15,000 homes and businesses have been damaged, with around 120,000 without power.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the task ahead was “massive”.

She said for some residents it may be months before they could get back into their homes because of the repair work involved.

She said: “We will face some real logistical issues to get food and water out. People are living in what I would describe as a post war zone.”

Looters have also been targeting evacuated homes and businesses in Ipswich, prompting a furious councillor to brand them “the scum of the earth”.

Meanwhile, Australian cricketer Shane Watson has pledged to return to his home town to help out.

He said: “I’ll be doing everything I can to get back there as soon as I can to help out because my heart is there, my family is there,” said the 29-year-old Ashes opener.

n Do you have a message of support for Ipswich, Australia? Are you worried about loved ones Down Under? Call The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@evening star.co.uk

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