Joyce Lucas: Pharmacists play a vital role in helping

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It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of my dear friend Mary, one of the last remaining Rutland Land Army Girls I last wrote about her on November 20, 2014. Just six days after her 91st birthday Mary Bland passed away at the Care Village in Oakham. What a legacy she has left and the space will be hard to fill. I met her when she was a dinner lady at Edith Weston Primary School. She became a Sunday school helper and was a friend to many. I feel it is a great privilege for me to be able to speak at her funeral. She knew every child by name, hence the donations will be accepted in aid of two children’s charities. My condolences to all her extended family and friends.

On a lighter note I read with interest the latest publication from Rex Merchant entitled A Country Chemist, The Memoirs of a Rural Pharmacist. Having been in the business for many years it was very much of interest to me. We both studied pharmacy many years ago - a subject which included human physiology, forensic pharmacy, pharmacology and pharmacognosy (the study of medicinal plants). Perhaps that is where Rex and I began to enjoy growing garden plants.

The book gives an insight into the complex effects on the human, and sometimes animal, body and the comical anecdotes of how the writer eventually became involved in taxidermy is worth a read. Pharmacists are often a forgotten army in the National Health Service, though they play a vital role, and should always be treated as part of a team.

Which brings me onto an envelope which dropped through our letter box last week. It read: “We’re here to help. Get your prescriptions delivered free. Just tell us your requirements.” So, of course, I became intrigued and rang the number. Someone in Leeds answered. “How does this work,” I asked.

“Just let us know your requirements and we will do the rest,” she answered.

“Who pays for this service?”

I didn’t get an answer. Then I told her that at the moment I was happy to collect my prescriptions from the town pharmacy as it gives me chance to meet people and pointed out that isolation in the elderly is a great concern. With that she ended the conversation. Our local pharmacies also deliver so that aspect is already covered.

I spoke to Rex, the author, some days later and apparently a lot of firms all over the country are doing the same thing. The question “Who is paying for the service?” is still not answered.

I had several phone calls about the television coverage of Michael Portillo’s visit to Oakham Castle. Most said: “I hope that red horseshoe is not amongst the other displays”.

Although it was great coverage and gave an insight to one of our greatest industries, the iron foundry, it would be nice to know where the latest horseshoe will be displayed. Perhaps the Rutland County Council foyer would be ideal.

It was also good to see so much coverage of Rutland Water on Countryfile.

It was good also to see the incoming High Sheriff Andrew Brown being interviewed, and Dave Cole, a volunteer who I met some 40 years ago when my son and I were volunteers planting trees.

Last weekend after our chapel service I went to post a letter and met some visitors from Peterborough. They had arrived in the hopes of visiting the Castle but found it closed. I gave them a bit of history and pointed them to a local eatery. They added that they would return in the summer so I then had to explain the Castle would be closed for refurbishment. Perhaps it would be an idea to post this information so that visitors will not be disappointed if they make a return visit.

And finally, I have always known that Oakham was the epicentre of the universe….but it takes an earthquake to let everyone else know. That also generated a few ‘phone calls this week!