Tribute: Merton Shiers

Merton Shiers was a typical community pharmacist of the 1950s, who for many years enjoyed serving his customers and patients. He was innovative within in his time, creating his own versions of cough medicines and other remedies. These were sold under the name Tonela — a play on words of his and his wife Pamela’s names. His other innovation included a wide range of baby equipment, and as Mothercare had just come to market in the early 1960s, he called it ‘Fathercare’ in his shop.

He started his career qualifying from University of Liverpool School of Pharmacy in 1952 and the friends he made then lasted throughout his lifetime. His first pharmacy business was in Slade Lane in Davyhulme, where he lived over the shop with Pamela and their two children, Adrian and Judie. From there he moved to Sale, Manchester, and opened a small pharmacy on Northenden Road where he made a lifelong friendship with the manager of the gentlemen’s outfitters across the road.

He later worked in Moss Side in a pharmacy that primarily served the Afro-Caribbean community, finding a particularly niche with their specialised hair products, and would bring home exotic fruit and vegetables on a weekly basis, such as mangoes, yams and sweet potatoes.

Their third child Nigel was born in Sale and the family remains there to this day. Many a Sunday afternoon, the children earned their pocket money by packing and labelling throat lozenges from huge boxes of loose tablets into skillets of 12 tablets. Merton returned to Sale for a few years in the early 1970s but spent his final 20-odd practicing years in Greater Manchester’s Higher Blackley on Victoria Avenue.

Merton loved pharmacy and was delighted when his daughter also qualified from University of Liverpool School of Pharmacy, and progressed not into community pharmacy, but into the hospital arena. He could never understand why he was able to get prescriptions to patients in a timely manner while this didn’t always happen in the hospital setting. 

Merton always said that the Unichem shares he received in the early days of the business kept him in clover for the latter part of his life, and when he resigned from the Society, he still kept in touch with pharmaceutical matters as his daughter passed on her copies of The Pharmaceutical Journal, and he always had a view on current issues of the day.

He is survived by his three children and is sadly missed by his family, friends. staff and customers.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, December 2018, Vol 301, No 7920;301(7920)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205843

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