SMILING AGAIN: Tahlia Acai, 8, Xander Hill, 2, and Norman Hill had mixed emotions as they received gifts after losing all their possessions.
SMILING AGAIN: Tahlia Acai, 8, Xander Hill, 2, and Norman Hill had mixed emotions as they received gifts after losing all their possessions. David Nielsen

Money, toys and a new wedding dress for victims of house fire

GOODNA fire victims Norman Hill and Sally Acai haven't had much reason to smile lately.

The couple, who are due to be wed this week, lost their new home and belongings in a devastating fire on Friday.

They had moved in with their six children, aged 11 months, 2, 6, 8, 10 and 12, only four months ago.

"It was our castle. We had worked really hard to get it," Mr Hill said.

"It was heartbreaking watching it go up in flames...in less than 20 minutes it was all gone."

But the family's tears of sorrow were briefly replaced by big smiles this weekend, with a display of support from local community group Giving with Love.

The organisation prepared special gift packs filled with essentials to help the family get back on its feet.

The gesture is one of many acts of kindness, with donations and offers of assistance pouring in since news of the fire spread through the community.

Mr Hill said he and his fiancee had planned to hold their wedding reception in their backyard, but were now uncertain how the ceremony could go ahead.

Wedding dresses and bouquets were also destroyed in the fire.

To help the couple keep their wedding dreams alive, businesses and organisations have offered alternative venues, limousines and even a new wedding dress.

In addition, donations of furniture, electrical goods, toys and funds have started to flow in for the family. Mr Hill said he had been overwhelmed by the community's generosity.

"I didn't realise just how supportive our community was until this tragic event happened to us," he said.

"The assistance has been wonderful - the kids are so happy to get some stuff back and it's great to see them smiling again.

"I really hope the wedding can still go ahead too, I can't wait to marry Sal."

Goodna councillor Paul Tully delivered the Giving with Love gifts to the family with Mayor Paul Pisasale.

Cr Tully said the response from the community was just another example of how locals always came to the call in times of hardship and tragedy.

He said the Mayor's Community Fund was still collecting monetary donations for the family.

Cr Pisasale said it was important to let Mr Hill and his family know they were not alone during their difficult time.

The family is currently living with relatives while they search for an adequate rental property.

To make a donation to the Ipswich Mayor's Community Fund phone 3810 6666.



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