The power of community

The Toowoomba Mothers’ Memorial is an extraordinary testament to the power of community collaboration. In creating an important community event for World Mental Health Day, the Unleash the Beast committee have been incredibly inspired by this story.

Authors and speakers attending this inaugural event will be presented with a very special gift of the Toowoomba Violet, which was declared Toowoomba’s emblem at a meeting of Council on 11th January 1932.

The Unleash the Beast committee would love to have descendants of the incredible women who were responsible for the memorial to present these gifts on October 10.

The Mothers’ Memorial was founded by a group of mothers and family members of soldiers who left from Toowoomba to fight in World War I and did not return. Bunches of 50 individual home-grown violets were picked and tied with cotton and sold for three or sixpence to raise the funds for this significant memorial. Anyone who has picked these tiny flowers would know what a labour of love this must have been.

It is estimated that 144,000 bunches were sold – or 7,200,000 individual flowers – according to records held in the Toowoomba Local History Library. 1,800 pounds were raised from the sales, allowing the memorial to be built in 1922. It was originally located at the intersection of Ruthven and Margaret Streets, which was the sending off point for those leaving to go to war. The memorial was relocated to its current position in East Creek Park in 1985.

Mrs Wonderley, Groom, Scott, Buchanan, Stieglitz, Murdell, Hogarth, Fryar, Polglass, Tolmie, Paterson and Phillips were all on the committee. The Darling Downs Gazette Thursday 21 July 1921 read ‘The committee will be very pleased to have the names of any girls who will volunteer to pick the bunches for the weekly sales in the streets. The Mothers’ Stall in Margaret Street will in future be held once a month… and it is hoped that the public will accord liberal patronage’.

The Unleash the Beast committee welcomes contact from anyone connected with the Mothers’ Memorial and hopes the public will ‘accord liberal patronage’ at this important event for Toowoomba.

Please contact or Emma Mactaggart on 0438 990 211.

Shana Rogers