Tribute: Vela Burden

Vela Burden, a past president of the National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP), was born on 16 November 1941. She went to Stamford High School, and then studied pharmacy at De Montfort University, Leicester, where she met Michael Burden, who was also studying pharmacy.

Michael and Vela were married in October 1965 and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2015, with their two children, Emma and Stephen, and six grandchildren.

Vela spent most of her career in community pharmacy, either as a manager or, later, as a locum in and around Leicestershire. Michael was chief pharmacist of Leicester Royal Infirmary where he worked with another National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP) member, Effie Smith. Effie and her husband, Graham, Michael and Vela and all their children became very good friends, spending many hours together swimming and walking. Vela had a keen interest in nature and photography in and around Wymeswold. Vela once took a photograph of 50 ladybirds settled in one place and sent it to the local nature magazine. The family allotment was a great pleasure to Vela, especially the notable asparagus bed. When retired, Vela and Michael loved nothing better than to have the family to stay in their holiday cottage in Dorset.

Vela was on the NAWP executive committee from the early 70s until 2006. She was president from 1984 to 1986 and newsletter editor from 1976 to 2006. Vela supported the NAWP in all its work, especially enjoying the weekend schools, and helped organise the one in Loughborough in 1991. In 1995, Vela was made an honorary life member of the NAWP. The Association celebrated its centenary in 2005 and Vela was very involved in all the celebrations: dressing up in period clothes for the banquet in Abergavenny, Wales, and welcoming the Princess Royal to lunch at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) at its headquarters in London.

In 1993, Vela was made a Fellow of RPS for her huge contribution to pharmacy.

Vela died on 20 October 2018 after a long illness. Several of her friends of many years from the NAWP were able to attend her funeral in the local church, along with her family and a large number other friends. Our thoughts are with Michael and the family. Vela was a character who will be missed by all.

Anita White, president of the National Association of Women Pharmacists



Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, March 2019, Vol 302, No 7923;302(7923)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206162

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