In 1962, my family arrived in London from apartheid South Africa. My late father Jerry Shulman became manager of Lewis and Burrows Ltd, in South Kensington. Within a few months he hugely improved the branch turnover. He soon clashed with his younger livewire area manager, Derek Balon, who tried to advise him on how to improve his performance. Thus, an enduring family and professional friendship began.
Soon they each bought their own community pharmacy business; Derek supported by his wife Maureen in their Notting Hill pharmacy.
Derek and Jerry began to engage in and write about policy and practice, education, research and use of medicines in community practice. They inspired and challenged each other and many pharmacist colleagues to be active in these fields. They disagreed about aspects of politics, but were both passionate about improving professional standards.
Derek thrived on innovation and hard work; he once wrote his own pharmacy computerised labelling system to improve upon commercially available systems. I observed at first hand the high regard in which he was held by customers and local GPs. Later, his career evolved towards his love of teaching and research in pharmacy practice, while still running his pharmacy.
Derek was made a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. He sold his business to care for Maureen when she was dying. He then continued to work.
He was proud of his much-loved daughter Judith’s career in pharmacy.
My brother Rob and I will miss his enthusiasm, humour, dedication, innovation and clarity of thought, and will remember him too for his kindness and loyalty as a family friend.
In the words of Professor Ian Bates: Derek was a stalwart for the profession and changed many lives through his visionary approaches to pharmacy and teaching. He will be sadly missed.