Tribute: John Kirby (1931–2021)

My father John was the son of a pharmacist and, on qualifying in 1957, joined the small retail chain of John Keall Ltd in St John’s Wood, London. John Keall was a founder of the National Pharmaceutical Union — now known as the National Pharmacy Association — a past president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and a former mayor of Wandsworth. Maybe it was this example of public service that started my father off on his career.

Married to Joy, and father to a family of daughters, John moved to Hertfordshire in 1961 and spent the rest of his life there. The pharmacy that he acquired was a heavy dispensing business, and John quickly became aware of the need to raise both the standards and the public perception of the profession.

He became involved in the Hertford and District branch of the then Pharmaceutical Society as secretary and chair, twice, and with the local pharmaceutical committee. This led to an increasing involvement in the need for continuing professional development to become more organised and more relevant to community pharmacy, specifically. He worked with the late Dr Norman Harris on the NW Thames Pharmacy Education Committee, with the encouragement of the then chair, Dr Eddie Fullerton, and latterly Dr Peter Wilson. John had, meanwhile, been elected to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee on which he served for eight years, chairing, with some success, a committee investigating the body’s constitution.

John was a Rotarian for nearly 50 years, a Paul Harris Fellow and president of his club on two occasions.

He was made a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in 1989 in recognition of his services to education.

John sold his business in 1992 and became a tutor within the Postgraduate Pharmacy Education Centre. He was a founder member of the sadly lamented College of Pharmacy Practice, and kept his hand in what is now the British Society for the History of Pharmacy and the Reading Conference 1994.

He was frustratingly confined to a wheelchair owing to back problems for the past few years. This eventually led to heart failure. He passed away on 5 October 2021, only days before his 90th birthday.

He loved the pharmacy profession and will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his four daughters Susan, Caroline, Sarah and Rebecca.

Sarah Gaynor MRPharmS (née Kirby)

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, October 2021, Vol 307, No 7954;307(7954)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.110551

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