Exemplar Global certified auditor Paula Penfold works alongside her husband Graham Hyde as a quality management consultant completing audits in the health and disability fields.
Penfold has a passion for the health industry and throughout the course of her career has earned a science degree and worked as a nurse, midwife, biochemist, and auditor.
Penfold has dedicated a considerable part of her career to working in the area of muscular dystrophy—an inherited genetic condition that is marked by a progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles. It’s a devastating condition that in severe cases sees those affected only live until their early 30s. It’s a condition that hits close to home for Penfold, having raised two children with the condition.
In recognition for her work in the area, Penfold was recently was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to the community through support for people with muscular dystrophy, child health, ethical standards, and medical research.
Being appointed as an AM is a prestigious achievement and is the pre-eminent way that Australians recognize the achievements and service of their fellow citizens. In the Australian honors system, AM appointments confer recognition for outstanding achievement and service and are awarded for service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group.
Penfold has raised many children, including her two brothers, Ross and Gordon, who suffered from the most severe form of muscular dystrophy—Duchenne. Both were diagnosed at an early age. Sadly, Ross and Gordon both passed away in their early 20s.
“The boys grew up in our house and we did all we could to make their lives very comfortable,” Penfold says. “The boys were really important to us. By that stage I had done biochemistry and was working in a laboratory. I was very interested in genetic research and why muscular dystrophy occurs.”
It was during this time that Penfold, along with a group of parents established the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Queensland. Penfold was chair of this organization for close to a decade and was also a key instigator in the creation of the national muscular dystrophy body—Muscular Dystrophy Australia.
Prior to this, Penfold worked in a research group undertaking benchtop research into neuromuscular diseases and had two papers published in the British Medical Journal.
“It was all world firsts,” Penfold says. “There were things that hadn’t been discovered before.”
Other considerable achievements for Penfold include sitting on the ethics committee at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, and running her own chain of healthy baby clinics in pharmacies.
It is for all of these reasons that Penfold was nominated to be appointed an AM. Penfold’s medal was presented in a ceremony at Government House Queensland on May 4 by the governor of Queensland, Paul De Jersey. To view a video of Penfold receiving her award, click here.
“I still don’t know who nominated me,” Penfold says. “I am ever so grateful that I was appointed an AM. It’s not only me who was the recipient of this award; there was a whole team behind me. I feel very privileged and very humbled to have received it.
“There is a lot of work going on out there. It’s really lovely that muscular dystrophy is coming to the fore, and people are starting to know more about it.”