Tribute: William ‘Bill’ Brookes

Pharmacists around the country will be deeply saddened at the news of the death of Bill Brookes. He was active in the profession over virtually the whole of his professional life, and was known widely but particularly in the NHS hospital pharmacy environs.

He and I worked together for more than 20 years on the Council of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, where we both had served as president and were both members of the staff side of Pharmaceutical Whitley Council. During that time, in 1986, an emergency duty agreement was struck for the first time with government and, in 1989, a new, flexible grading structure with significant pay rises was introduced; this resulted in the severe shortages of hospital pharmacists being quickly reversed. Much of that success was through the meticulous work that Bill did behind the scenes.

Bill was a skilled committee member and chair, and was always well prepared for the tasks in hand. He chaired the Royal Pharmaceutical Society hospital pharmacists group committee for four years; served as the Guild’s first professional secretary; was a member of the staff side of The General Whitley Council for many years; and also a member of many local pharmacy committees. Bill carried out the duties of all offices he held with great dignity and authority.

He also edited the Guild’s various publications for several years, was instrumental in establishing ‘Guild News’ and was a regular contributor to the columns of The Pharmaceutical Journal.

Bill was born in 1926 in Northwich. He served in the miliary from 1944 to 1948. Back in ‘Civvy Street’, after an apprenticeship and a year’s study at Manchester University, Bill gained the chemist and druggist qualification in 1950, which granted him admission to the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain register as a member of the Pharmaceutical Society, aged 24 years. After a further year’s study at Manchester, he was awarded the pharmaceutical chemist qualification (PhC). He later became an automatic Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society when the C&D qualification was abolished.

He married Betty in March 1953. They brought up four children— Paul, Peter, Sue and Heather — who produced eight grandchildren and ten great grandchildren. Sadly, Bill died just four weeks after Betty.

Bill’s first jobs in hospital pharmacy were in London. In 1959, he moved to become deputy chief pharmacist at Nottingham City Hospital, having researched that the then chief pharmacist was due to retire in two years’ time. Sure enough, in 1961, at the age of 35 years, Bill became chief pharmacist.

The Noel Hall reorganisation in 1973 resulted in Bill being appointed to an area pharmacist post back in part of his native Cheshire. Based at Leighton hospital, he was responsible for pharmacy services at Leighton and its surrounding hospitals.

In recognition of all his hard work and attainments nationally, he was awarded the Guild’s gold medal in 1988 and honorary vice presidency of the Guild in 1994, followed by the pinnacle of the Pharmaceutical Society’s charter silver medal in 1995 — all, of course, richly deserved.

We will miss him greatly.

Bill’s funeral will be held at 14:40 on 1 July 2019, at Bradwell Crematorium, Chatterley Close, Bradwell, Staffordshire, ST5 8LE.


Bob Timson

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2019, Vol 302, No 7926;302(7926)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206674

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