Award of life membership to John Aitken

John Aitken

Sutherland Group is very pleased to nominate John Aitken for his outstanding service to Australian native plants in several areas:

  •  Increasing awareness and appreciation of Australian native plants through the good governance of the Australian Plants Society as president, secretary and board member to allow the society to meet its objectives
  • Increasing and disseminating knowledge about Australian native plants as co-editor of the quarterly Australian Plants journal since 2008, and editor of Native Plants for NSW
  • Fostering the growing of Australian plants in home gardens through making his own garden accessible.

John Aitken has been passionate about Australian native plants for over 40 years. He has dedicated many years as a volunteer to the Australian Plants Society NSW and Sutherland Group to encourage the growth, conservation and promotion of Australian native plants, and is very active. Dates for earlier commitments are incomplete but his most recent roles include:

  • President, Australian Plants Society NSW (May 2012 to May 2014, and May 2015 to May 2021)
  • Vice-President, Australian Plants Society NSW (May 2021 to current)
  • Secretary, Australian Plants Society NSW (2008 to 2012)
  • NSW Delegate to Australian Native Plants Society (Australia)
  • Co-Editor, Australian Plants quarterly journal (2008 to current), producing a full colour quarterly publication for members and non-members across Australia
  • Editor, Native Plants for NSW (2008 to 2012), editing and producing a full colour quarterly newsletter for NSW members, and co-ordinating its distribution to members.

In his various roles on the APS NSW board, John has made a significant contribution to both promoting Australian native plants and managing a volunteer, not-for-profit organisation with almost 1,500 members. His major achievements as President of APS NSW include:

  • developing a new format daytime Quarterly Gathering for members to reinvigorate member meetings and planning speakers and activities, and organising the annual weekend Get Together
  •  establishing a Growth and Promotions Committee to increase membership
  • encouraging Australian Plants Society participation in the Royal Easter Show, including organising plants from Sutherland Council nursery
  • reinvigorating and modernising the two quarterly member publications
  • re-establishing Australian Plants Society groups, including encouraging greater interaction between city and country members of APS through the weekend Get Togethers
  • managing the move to online administration including closing the APS office and replacing the quarterly printed Native Plants for NSW with a monthly enewsletter
  • negotiating member discounts and a fundraising arrangement with Neutrog fertilisers.
John and Liz Aitken on the recent Central West trip, which John organised, image Jill McLelland

John has also ensured the Australian Plants Society is a well-governed community organisation and meets its legal and compliance obligations including insurance, and annual and financial reporting, at a time when many community organisations struggle to fill positions and meet requirements. John’s most recent term as President was extended to ensure continuity in governance. He is currently Vice-President but is stepping down from the board at the AGM in May 2022. He will continue to have an active role on the committee organising the ANPSA conference in September 2022.

John’s Australian native garden at Bonnet Bay was in the Open Gardens Australia scheme in 2014 (and previously 1998 to 2001) and many members of the public enjoyed his garden. His garden was also open to the public in 2013 as part of APS Sutherland Group’s 50th anniversary celebrations and in 2017. John and his garden have also appeared on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia including a segment with Angus Stewart.

John was President of APS Sutherland Group in 1997 to 1999, 2004 to 2006, and in 2015. He ensured the group continued to provide an active program for its members by chairing monthly meetings, chairing Committee meetings, organising Angus Stewart for Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve Spring Walks day, and participating in our Children’s Day. APS Sutherland Group is one of the largest and most active of the APS NSW groups. John is an active Committee member. He has also led walks for the group over the years.

John has worked enthusiastically over many years as a volunteer to promote Australian native plants in the community and inspire others in their volunteer service. He is also active in other community groups and volunteer service. John received the Cook Community Award for Cook electorate in 2015, nominated by Sutherland Group.