‘When something bad happens to one of us, we all suffer.’
Lismore’s mayor Jenny Dowell yesterday summed up the feeling of many people left bewildered and angry at the cowardly attack on one of the city’s beloved characters, Ray Parry, at the weekend.
Ray copped a coward’s punch, followed by a number of other blows as he lay on the ground defenceless at the Winsome soup kitchen.
Police are investigating the incident but are yet to make an arrest.
Since the attack, Mr Parry has received a wave of support from his many friends throughout the community, who are now organizing a special day next month to show him he is loved.
‘What happened to Ray was really unfortunate. No-one could think of a more gentle and happy fellow than Ray,’ Cr Dowell told Echonetdaily at yesterday’s Diversity Day celebrations at the Lismore TAFE campus.
‘When something bad happens to one of us, we all suffer so it’s important that we surround Ray with love, saying don’t be scared of going out into our community because of one really bad incident.
‘We are here to support you, and rather than focus on the negativity of that incident, we should focus on the love, and the community we can share to hold people together and safe.
To prove that point, Ray’s friends are organizing a Dress Like Ray Day, which will be held on 6 July … Mr Parry’s birthday.
The day will feature a gathering at the soup kitchen, where he is a member of the Winsome Street Choir, at which a special mayoral proclamation is expected to be made.
‘Some people think we’re a bit of a mono-cultural society here in Lismore and while we may not have the rainbow of nations here, we have the rainbow of lifestyles and diversity,’ Cr Dowell said.
‘And I think it’s really good to remind ourselves of that, and to celebrate the differences that we have that makes us interesting.
Cr Dowell urged Lismore residents to take up the challenge to show their support for Ray, and for diversity in the city.
“It’s his birthday and the plan is to have a Dress like Ray Day so people should start thinking about how colourful they can dress,’ she said.
As a guide, Cr Dowell noted Mr Parry’s splendid attire at the Diversity Day gathering, which was organized by students studying for a Diploma in Community Services.
‘He looks gorgeous today,’ Cr Dowell said.
‘He’s a bit like a red pirate but on other days he looks like a Scotsman with mismatched socks … you name it Ray’s worn it.
An emotional Mr Parry told Echonetdaily he had experienced a roller-coaster of emotions since the attack, and was thankful of the support shown by his friends and the wider Lismore community.
As part of yesterday’s celebration, flags from around the world adorned the gates of the campus and students, staff and visitors were provided with food and entertainment from Bundjalung artist Tom Avery (Blakboi) and the Brotherhood of the Blues band.