Home » Former Ipswich mayor hasn’t stopped working

Former Ipswich mayor hasn’t stopped working

Daniel Bouwmeester    October 9, 2022    3 min read   

Ipswich’s former mayor John Nugent continues to serve the community he used to run, by helping out a local charity with grocery trips.

Mr Nugent, who prefers to go by “John” (although his first name is actually Owen), was the first mayor of the restructured Ipswich City Council from 1995 to 2004 – and before that, Chairman of Moreton Shire Council from 1988.

He is 87, and lives in Redbank Plains, where he is a 24/7 carer for his wife, Elizabeth. Some of his family live in the unit upstairs, and they help look after Elizabeth when John gets out and about.

Despite his age and his many other commitments, John still gladly volunteers twice a week with Westside Community Care, the local charitable arm of the Springfield Christian Family church to which Mr Nugent belongs.

“I go out on Tuesday mornings and Friday mornings,” John said.

He collects two or three trolleys worth of food from ALDI Orion, loads his car, then drives over to the Camira Springfield Community Centre on Old Logan Road, which is the home base of Westside Community Care. They provide John his grocery list, which depends on the needs of struggling families.

“Sometimes you get a car-ful, sometimes you only get a couple of things,” he explained.

Westside coordinator Pastor Phil Cutcliffe said John is “absolute gold”.

Above: John Nugent after a coffee and a chat at Orion Springfield Central. Image: Daniel Bouwmeester/Local News Publications.

Top: Mayor Nugent with Division 2 Councillor Paul Tully. Image: Cr Paul Tully.

“I’m amazed at his heart to want to keep serving and his amazing fitness… It’s not just a lightweight job, but rather it’s a very solid commitment,” he explained.

Up until recently, John regularly participated in the 50km “Ipswich Cares” charity walk.

“He also cares for his second wife, Elizabeth,” he said.

“Amazing man, amazing heart, amazing perseverance.”

Phil also shared a fond memory of his passion for public service while in office, years ago.

“I remember the times I went into the mayor’s office… if I’d just missed him, his secretary would say: ‘Here’s his home number – call him at home’!”

June Johnson, who also volunteers at Westside, praised John’s vigour.

“He’s very fit. And he’s vegan. He still thinks he is 21!”

John’s mind is as sharp – and certainly opinionated – as ever, remaining conversant with current affairs at home and abroad, and boasting broad historical knowledge.

He regularly contributes columns for local newspapers, commenting on topics ranging from ineffective council subdivisions to wasteful public spending, and even to modern international relations and asymmetric warfare.

Regarding the former, John is very adamant.

“We are the only council in Queensland to have dual-member divisions. I can’t understand why they would change the system in Ipswich to a model different to every other council,” he said.

“What happens in one of these divisions when you elect two people who are rivals? That can happen.”

John’s first wife Glenis died in 2003, after a more than 40-year-long marriage, and raising three children.

He met Elizabeth at age 71, and within a few years they were married.

Daniel Bouwmeester

Daniel was born in a mining town in New South Wales to Dutch and Welsh immigrants, before relocating to Logan City, where he attended Canterbury College for twelve years. He pursued his passion for music by completing a first-class honours degree at the University of Queensland (UQ), and later signed with a local record label. He has travelled the world from a young age, including a student exchange in rural France, a job working the ski lifts in Colorado, and visits to the islands of the South Pacific. After a six-year career in market research, Daniel returned to UQ to complete a Bachelor of Journalism and Arts dual degree, majoring in political science. His varied experiences at home and abroad have contributed to a passion for spreading good news while defending the truth buried inside complex societal paradigms.