90-year-old turns 'rubbish dump' into sanctuary for wildlife
WHEN he moved to Ipswich in 1995 to be closer to his daughter, the nearby RAAF Base at Amberley provided a familiarity that allowed Doug Abbot to quickly settle in to his new home.
Mr Abbot served 32 years in the British Royal Air Force as a medic and spent many of those based in the Arabian Gulf, where he learnt the local language.
"That was one of the things that attracted me (to Ipswich) actually... the sound of aircraft,” he laughed.
"I used to go around and treat Arab soldiers and their families, which was an education in itself.
"Part of my job was aeromedical evacuation. I used to have staff I'd send all over the world to pick up casualties.”
Ipswich's senior citizen of the year celebrated his 90th birthday this week and the Bellbird Park resident is still an active member of his community.
The native Englishman was recognised at the 2019 Australia Day awards for the countless hours he has committed to restoring Eric Edwardson Memorial Park.
It was named after the young man who stopped the area from being turned into an industrial estate and later died at 20 from leukaemia.
Mr Abbot first stumbled upon the one hectare lot in about 2005 and started putting in six hour days to whip the "rubbish dump” into shape.
"I burnt out two lawnmowers and one whipper snipper just trying to get in (at first),” he smiled.
"It was an awful mess. It will never have mowed lawns or anything like that, it's very rough but it's (now) a plethora of wildlife.”
He as cut back in recent years but he will remain a constant figure at park for as long as he can.
Alongside wife Jean, they also raise funds for Guide Dogs.
He celebrated the milestone on Tuesday alongside family and friends.
"I got a lot of cards. I told people not to get me presents, I've got all the presents I need,” he said.