Story & photo: Michelle Cook
We heard back in June that Martin Bennett, managing director of Associated Chemists (Wicker) Ltd had been awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for "services to pharmacy". We spoke to Martin about his award.
"This is a great honour for me personally, but it should also be seen as recognition for the team at The Wicker Pharmacy and The Wicker Mobility Shop as centres of excellence."
The Wicker Pharmacy is part of Sheffield's history, it is a real landmark, made famous by the urban myth that it never closes, coming from the fact that up until a few years ago it was the only chemist in Sheffield open at night and on Christmas Day.
The Company was formed in 1951 and the pharmacy opened in January 1952. It was the first example of a 'consortium owned' pharmacy, with almost all Sheffield's independent pharmacists owning shares. Martin joined in 1973 and has led a series of changes over the years, including computer labelling and a number of clinics for smoking cessation, contraception and weight management.
Martin was instrumental in setting up the pioneering Coordinated Pharmacy Services for Drug Users in Sheffield, which was adopted in many other areas after Sheffield's success. Future plans include the setting up of a weblinked service to work with GPs on minor ailments.
Five years ago, faced with a compulsory purchase order relating to the new ring road, the company relocated sideways investing over £1m in an award winning state-of-the-art design which includes a robotic dispensing unit. Shortly after the work was completed came the 2007 flood causing major problems, but the pharmacy remained open and the damage was repaired.
Martin was awarded the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's Silver Medal in 2004 and received the Community Pharmacist of the Year award in 2006. He has recently celebrated his 63rd birthday but has no plans for retirement. He went on to say,
"Despite the recession, we are working hard to provide even better services for our patients and I'm looking forward to the Wicker Pharmacy and Mobility Shop continuing to be at the leading edge of developments. It's an exciting time."
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