Ernest Oldcorn qualified just after the end of the Second World War and was called up for service in the Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital in London’s Millbank. Back in ‘Civvy Street’, he joined Timothy Whites and Taylors, working mainly in the West Country, before eventually being appointed territorial general manager in Plymouth. He moved to Virginia Water in Surrey in 1956, and was made a senior director in 1964. When Boots merged with Timothy Whites in 1968, he briefly left pharmacy to work with David Greig’s grocery chain.
In 1973, Ernest purchased two independent pharmacies in Surrey, adding a third at Ascot in 1978. He managed the Claygate pharmacy until 1982, then split his time between the branches. He encouraged his managers — “the boys” — to buy shares in the company and made them junior directors, enabling a full management buyout when he retired in 1987. He continued to be a great source of encouragement.
Ernest always demanded the highest standards in his pharmacies and he didn’t suffer fools gladly. Sales reps, wholesaler executives, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee officials and even a Society inspector were all victims of his withering verbal criticism or lengthy letters. But his business was successful, he earned respect and those of us fortunate to work for him learnt a great deal from his example.
He was a keen golfer, and a regular member of both the Surrey and London Pharmacist Golfing Societies. Ernest continued playing at Wentworth well into his eighties, eventually becoming the oldest playing member at the club.
He became increasingly frail over the past few years and finally fell victim to COVID-19. His devoted wife, Evelyn, who had worked as company secretary at Ernest Oldcorn Ltd, died five days later.