Dr Paddy Lightfoot has been a councillor with the AFF since 2008 and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2011 for service to conservation and the environment in the Hunter region.
After graduating from Medicine at the Sydney University at the end of 1962, Paddy worked at Royal Newcastle Hospital for 2 years and then in England (hospital and general practice) for two years. He entered general practice in Charlestown, Newcastle in 1967 and stayed in the same practice for 38 years. He retired from full time practice two years ago, but still fills in as a locum during school holidays and sickness in the old practice.
Paddy joined the Society for Growing Australian Plants (now Australian Plants Society) in 1975. He has served on the committee of the Newcastle Group since 1976, including six years as Secretary. In 1992 he was elected a Life Member of the Australian Plants Society NSW Region for his work in promoting Australian native plants in the Newcastle area.
Paddy has been involved with the Hunter Wetlands Centre (HWCA) since its inception in 1985 – when he attended a public meeting to float the idea of a wetlands education facility. When the convenor, Professor Max Maddock, realised he was from SGAP he co-opted him onto the interim Landscape Committee. Paddy soon was elected a Foundation Director of the new public not for profit company, and currently is the only such director still on the board. As convenor of the Site Management Committee, one of Paddy’s missions was to ensure that only Australian natives were used in the transformation of the 45 hectares of former rugby fields and swampland into a native sanctuary. Now, after many years’ work on landscaping and the planting of about 60,000 trees and shrubs, Paddy can look with great satisfaction at the magnificent wetland centre and Ramsar site of international importance he helped to create.
Since 1990 Paddy has headed a registered Landcare Group, which meets every Thursday – The Thursday Mob – who work around the HWCA site. In 1999 Paddy was awarded a trophy for being runner-up as ABC Gardener of the Year for his work in getting the community involved in planting and maintaining the HWCA gardens. Paddy was awarded the Newcastle Medal, in 2006, for service to the City and Community of Newcastle. Paddy co-compiled with Geoff Rigby the SGAP publication ‘Australian Trees and Large Shrubs Suitable for Planting in the Lower Hunter.’
Paddy has been married to Caryl, who he calls ‘my long suffering wife’, for 43 years. They have three children. Their older boy, David, is a very active member of the APS, being leader of the Isopogon and Petrophile Study Group. Stephen, their younger boy, is a NSW Councillor on the Council of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Their daughter, Joanna, is a school teacher and is very environmentally aware.