John Appleton (1923–2023)

On 19 June 2023, John Appleton, aged 99 years, of Dunmow, Essex. Mr Appleton registered with the Society in 1945.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2023, Vol 310, No 7974;310(7974)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.189939


  • Donald Meekison

    John was the first CAPO of Tayside Health Board.
    He brought professionalism, an understanding of how Pharmacists could work together in Hospitals and the Community. He was much respected and a really lovely colleague.

  • Edward Mallinson

    John Derrick Appleton died peacefully on 19th June 2023 just six months short of his hundredth birthday and six months after his wife of seventy five years. (He was John to his work colleagues but Derrick to his family). We first met in August 1978 when he gave me the greatest break in my career by appointing me as District Pharmaceutical Officer for Perth and Kinross at the age of twenty eight. Mr. Appleton, I could never bring myself to call him John, was the kindest boss I ever had. He gave me the freedom to make my own decisions but was always there with sound advice and a helping hand to rectify the consequences of the not so sensible ones.

    A Yorkshireman through and through, he was for several years the Chief Pharmacist at St. James’s Hospital in Leeds before moving to Scotland as, up until 1974 and re-organisation of the NHS when he became Chief Administrative Pharmaceutical Officer (CAPO) for Tayside, the Regional Pharmaceutical Officer for Dundee and the East of Scotland, when he helped commission the new Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. John came from a generation of Hospital Pharmacists who were accustomed to having manufacturing as a primary activity and through hard work and cutting edge innovation, commissioned what is now Tayside Pharmaceuticals on the Ninewells Hospital site. At its opening it was the largest hospital pharmacy manufacturing facility in Europe. Sadly, in the early 1980s the role for which it was intended became unfashionable however following collaboration between NHS Tayside and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and a £26m upgrade in 2019 it is still producing “specials” for the NHS and stands as a legacy to his vision of over fifty years ago.

    He was an innovator in other ways, he encouraged the concept of Individual Patient Dispensing and clinical pharmacy when both were in their infancy and on his retirement in 1987 left a Pharmaceutical Service in Tayside that was at the cutting edge of professional practice.

    John Appleton was one of a kind, he was passionate about the profession, a family man and, above all a gentleman who always encouraged, never belittled, and cared deeply about his fellow man. As a Yorkshireman he spoke his mind, but in a quiet unassuming way. This retired Pharmacist will be forever grateful for his support and friendship and will miss him sorely as will those others who had the privilege to know him and work with him.


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