I first met Celia when, as a (frankly terrified) preregistration pharmacist, I stepped into the dispensary in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in September 1973, at the time she was an MSc student at Aston University.
She was tall, elegant, always beautifully dressed and extremely knowledgeable but always willing to help and support the more junior staff.
We bonded over our love of sewing and house renovation, our husbands became friends and we enjoyed many social occasions together. Our first babies were even due on the same day, although she beat me by a week.
In 1978, when I took up a post at the then West Midlands Health Authority with responsibility for the education and training of all grades of pharmacy staff, Celia and a small group of other pharmacists helped me set up a clinical training scheme for pharmacists, which eventually evolved into the Clinical Diploma run with Keele University.
At about the same time, Celia had moved to take over managing the pharmacy services to a campus of psychiatric units based at Rubery Hill. I think there were about 800 beds and there was Celia and a 0.5 full-time equivalent pharmacist along with a team of technicians. In 1981, in the move to care in the community, another post was created and I started my career in psychiatry once again under Celia’s guidance.
One of Celia’s great legacies is showing that pharmacists have the clinical knowledge to participate in multidisciplinary treatment planning and taking this into the teams in psychiatry was quite unusual and sometimes challenging at this time.
In 1982, I remember Celia and I attending a meeting in Nottingham in the early days of what became the College of Mental Health Pharmacy (CMHP). She was always committed to the support of other pharmacists in psychiatry many of whom at this time were working alone.
When De Montfort University decided to drop its Psychiatric Diploma, Celia was involved in liaising with Aston University to create the diploma as it exists now and organised it for many years.
After the breakdown of her marriage, when she was living on her own, we had many meetings in curry houses and pubs from where we were often evicted as we were still chatting at closing time.
In her last few years, she was happy and settled in Buckinghamshire with her second husband John, still working, still supporting the CMHP. When I was in contact with her at the beginning of the year she was eagerly anticipating the arrival of grandchildren four and five.
Celia was a great friend kind, supportive and hospitable and a constant support and advocate for pharmacists working in psychiatry.