William qualified as a pharmacist in 1958 after studying in Belfast. He worked in Northern Ireland for a couple of years before moving to Hull with his wife, Winifred, in 1961. That same year, William joined the register of the then Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain as a pharmaceutical chemist. While in Hull, he managed Butterwicks Pharmacy.
In 1965, William joined Evans Medical in Speke, Liverpool, for a role in hospital sales. While working there he performed a role not dissimilar to what we now call a medicines information specialist, working with all pharmacies, hospitals and veterinary practices across the region. The magnitude of this role is realised when it is remembered that he worked with hardback references rather than the internet.
When Evans Medical became Vestric Ltd, William was offered the position of assistant branch manager in the new Southampton branch, which he gladly accepted. He later became the manager of this branch. In 1976, William bought his own pharmacy in Poole which he named W.A. Ritchie. He subsequently purchased Park Pharmacy, also in Poole, where he practiced until his semi-retirement. Following the sale of Park Pharmacy, he continued as a locum for several years.
In 2008, he was awarded a certificate recognising 50 years of service to the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland at a Society dinner held at Queen’s University in Belfast.
He was a highly respected pharmacist, with pharmacists today still recalling his name despite him retiring from locum duties more than ten years ago. When visiting community pharmacies, William was always delighted to hear of counter assistants using the WWHAM question framework — a mnemonic system to help healthcare staff ask the patient suitable questions — as he had played a role in securing the funding for this training in the area. Throughout his career, William touched the lives of patients, staff and fellow professionals with his extensive knowledge, caring, patience and listening ear.
William died on 16 July 2019 aged 85 years, following a short illness. He leaves his wife Winifred, daughters Anne, Sarah and Claire, and five grandchildren — one of whom joins the register in September 2019 to proudly follow in his footsteps as a pharmacist.