Bill Brookes was one of the profession’s greatest ambassadors, both in the UK and abroad. I worked with him in many areas, though most notably on the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP) Council, where he fulfilled many posts — including that of president.
At the time, without computers, Bill relied on paper documents and journals for references. You could guarantee that in any meeting, whatever the subject, Bill was prepared and would manage to pull out the right quote or reference. His wife Betty, who passed away only a month before him, said that one of their children had asked if, when Bill retired, they would get to see what their dining table looked like under the pile of paper that was always on it.
Bill had an attention to detail and a memory of documents and references that would make any librarian or archivist jealous. His booklets, History of the Guild 1983–1997 and A Mark of Excellence — A History of the Evans Medal are exemplary in their thoroughness and are required reading for all hospital pharmacists who aspire to lead.
He was involved in the profession in many areas, and attended and organised many conferences and professional meetings, including local and national Royal Pharmaceutial Society (RPS) and GHP events and meetings. As such, Bill influenced the broader professional agenda, steering things on the right path with thoroughness, calmness and diplomacy. His commitment at these events extended late into the night, where he would socialise into the small hours, networking and influencing or picking up information he could later put to good use.
Whatever he did, it was always to support the advancement of the profession and be good sociable company. Bill was proud to have set up the resident pharmacist service in Nottingham City Hospital — the second in the UK. These services were the foundation stones on which clinical pharmacy was subsequently built.
Bill was highly regarded, both nationally and internationally, through the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists, which he also served for many years. He was a mentor to many and received several prestigious awards, including Fellowship of the RPS, RPS Charter Silver Medal and GHP Gold Medal (for services to the practice and/or politics of the profession). He was also awarded with honorary vice presidency of the GHP. The only surprise is that Bill didn’t receive more awards because he gave so much — he surely deserved more.
Bill was of great support when I was looking to demonstrate the need for the Manufacturing, Science and Finance trade union to fund professional officer support for the GHP. Although he was retired at the time, Bill did this role on an expenses-only basis, simply to help me demonstrate the need and value, and ultimately this proved successful.
Without Bill, few of us — myself included — could have achieved what we did. Consequently, all in pharmacy owe much to Bill, a giant in our profession, which he served with distinction, passion and as a good friend.