Former Narrabri resident Paul Sinclair AM has been elected president of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), the first Australian to hold this prestigious position.
Paul was formally declared president at the FIP congress held in Brisbane in September 2023.
The son of Brian (dec) and Enid Sinclair, Paul was born in Sydney in 1958 and moved to the Narrabri district with his family when he was four-years-old.
At the time his father Brian had taken up a partnership offer with Pat Smyth, the owner of Smyth’s Pharmacy located in Maitland Street.
After the move to Narrabri, Paul and his twin sister Sue, together with elder brother Mark and younger sister Alison, became a family of eight when Brian and Enid welcomed two more daughters, Denise and Louise.
Attending St Francis Xavier’s Primary School from kindergarten to Year 4, life as a boarder followed for Paul with a move to St Joseph’s School, Aberdeen, for Years 5 and 6, concluding with his secondary education at St Ignatius College Riverview in Sydney.
Paul later attended Sydney University to study pharmacy, returning home to Narrabri during the holidays to do part-time work at his father’s pharmacy, who by this time had purchased the business and was operating as Sinclair’s Pharmacy.
In the ensuing years, Paul would still return to Narrabri to catch up with friends and attend 21st birthday parties and celebrations.
“With five siblings there was always a crowd around, and Mum and Dad were great hosts,” reminisces Paul.
“I remember spending quite a bit of time with Dad in the pharmacy after hours, as he would often receive a phone call to have a late prescription dispensed for a sick child.
“I cannot recall him ever not helping a local customer after hours if there was a need.
“Whilst not a participant, I remember the Narrabri Pony Camp was a great event every year, and it was conversely the surest way to make it rain.
“I have so many memories of friends at pony camp slogging around in the mud and the inevitable colds and tummy upsets that followed.
“I think the local farmers used to sweat on pony camp if it had been a dry season and they needed rain urgently.
“The nice thing about country towns was everyone knew everyone and walking down the main street with either Mum or Dad could take ages, as everyone stopped to have a chat.
“People always seemed to make time to talk to each other and life seemed to be lived at a less frantic pace compared to today.
“I have fond memories of strong friendships during this time, Tom and Pauline Plunkett, Terry and Olga O’Connor, Jack and Betty Haire, Adrian and Val Sevil, Pat and Jeannie Carberry,
Bill and Patsy Carberry, and our next-door neighbours Bill and Beryl Heath.
“Sport was a great pastime in Narrabri.
“The Narrabri Golf Club was across the road from our house in Gibbons Street and I would look forward to playing cricket when home for holidays with Dad and the Myall Vale team.
“Bullawa Creek was the scene of many barbecues with family friends, as was the Mount Kaputar National Park.
“Dad was a pharmacist for most of his working life.
“He had commenced working as a representative with Drug Houses of Australia (DHA) before going to Sydney University to study pharmacy.
“At this time, he had three young children so it must have been a great challenge to support his family while studying.
“After buying the Narrabri pharmacy, he also purchased and operated a couple of other businesses in Narrabri, Sinclair’s Shoe Store and the Fabric Boutique.”
In 1980, Brian and Enid sold the three businesses and returned to live in Sydney.
Brian had formerly served on the Narrabri Municipal Council and served as mayor from 1978 to 1980.
“When the family moved back to Sydney, Dad opened a pharmacy in Minto in south west Sydney before purchasing a large newsagency in Camden, alongside which he opened a new pharmacy to operate.
“Dad loved being in business and loved being a pharmacist, where he could help and advise people every day.
“Dad had always loved being involved with the community and took the view it was better to get involved than simply standing on the sidelines, particularly when he saw an opportunity to improve things locally.
“Being a pharmacist brings you into close contact with your local community and the issues everyone experiences.
“I guess a bit like Dad, I thought rather than complaining about these issues, I thought it best to put my hand up and get involved too.
“With terrific support from my local community in Ingleburn, in 1995 I was elected to Campbelltown City Council as councillor.
“At that time CCC was one of the largest councils in Sydney and was undergoing significant growth and development.
“I was re-elected for two further terms and served as mayor from 1998-99.
“I enjoyed local government very much and it highlighted to me how many great people were in the community working as volunteers, carers and support persons.
“We were fortunate to have a functional council supported by very capable council staff.
“My wife Sandy and I now live in the city in the beautiful area of Walsh Bay.
“We have five adult children, Sarah, Emily, Hannah, Edward, and Henry, who are spread across Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
We have taken the opportunity to downsize from the large family home we enjoyed when all the kids were at school and university.
“Our eldest daughter Sarah has studied pharmacy, Emily pursued a fine arts career in New York before returning to Sydney to do a Masters of Education and become a teacher, Hannah studied Journalism Law and works in media, Edward studied Arts Law and now works as a business consultant, and Henry also studied Law and works with one of the major insurance companies.”
Paul has served on the board executive of FIP for a number of years, including as president of its Community Pharmacy Section (2014–18) and chair of FIP’s Board of Pharmaceutical Practice since 2018.
Paul’s professional activities have also included representing the Pharmacy Council of New South Wales, being past president of the NSW Branch Pharmacy Guild of Australia, national vice president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, and past chair of the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacists, as well as holding board positions in not-for-profit organisations such as Asthma Australia.
In 2019, Paul was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the pharmaceutical industry, the community and local government.
“I had been involved with FIP for the past 12 years before being elected president this year.
“I consider this a great privilege and a challenge I look forward to very much over the four years.
“I have previously been involved in the Pharmacy Guild of Australia both as National vice president and as NSW branch president and saw the opportunity to broaden my involvement with my profession by engaging with FIP, an international organisation.
“FIP’s aim is to improve pharmacy worldwide and in particular to support the establishment of the pharmacy profession in developing countries.
“FIP represents pharmacists in all disciplines, pharmacy practice, pharmaceutical sciences, and pharmaceutical education.
“I have developed a strong network of professional colleagues and friends through my involvement with FIP and it highlights to me every day the important work pharmacists do in every community around the world.”
Paul took over as FIP president elect on September 23, and the momentous occasion marked the beginning of his four-year term.
“It is interesting, that although I have now spent most of my life away from Narrabri, it is the town and community I grew up in, so it will always be the place ‘I am from’.
“Whenever I have the chance to get back to Narrabri or simply drive through, I see a town which has had significant civic improvements, which now has great facilities and certainly presents as a strong rural community and a great place to live.
“I have nothing but fond memories of Narrabri.”