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Ann Lewis OBE
25th November 1942 - 28th December 2013
On Wednesday 26th February, 2014, at 11:30am a service of thanksgiving for the life of Ann Lewis OBE was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.
The Venerable David Meara delivered the bidding:-
We gather today to celebrate the life and honour the memory of Ann Lewis, President, Secretary and Registrar of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and before that district pharmaceutical Officer for Chester, then Director of Pharmaceutical services for the Countess of Chester Hospital. She was known all over the pharmaceutical world, she worked for the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association, and she was awarded many accolades and honorary degrees.
But she will be remembered as a person of warm heart and great good humour, steady as a rock, with a real gift for friendship, resilient, enormous fun to be with, one of life's doers.
As we give thanks for her today, and for the privilege of having known her, we commend her to God, trusting that at the end of our brief day is the eternity of His love.
Carwen Wynne Howells
‘Life is not measured in the years you have lived but in the love you gave and the things you did'.
Each one of us has personal anecdotes, stories and treasured memories of Ann ,some of which we have had the opportunity to share in recent weeks as we have reflected on her life and her achievements.
However, it falls to me today to attempt to capture the essence of what was indeed a truly remarkable life .To say that it was ‘action packed’ is to put it mildly and I hope that ,in the short time available, I can do it justice.
For those of you who were at Ann’s funeral, you will note that I have used Christine Glover’s excellent Eulogy as a ‘starter for ten’!
Ann was born into a farming family and grew up on a farm on the Cheshire Plains where she acquired a passion for wildlife and all sorts of country pursuits that would last a lifetime – but more of that later.
A few months before Ann’s fifth birthday there was a new arrival on the farm in the shape of her brother, Tom. Like most older sisters, she was fiercely protective of her younger sibling whilst having an unerring ability to lead him astray. The young Ann saw no reason why if she did something that Tom could not do it too. Her ‘Come on, Tom, you can do it’ attitude was to land the pair of them in trouble on more than one occasion - it is probably just as well that Mrs Lewis did not know the half of it.
Ann spent her schooldays at Rydal School in North Wales and you do not need me to tell you who was the instigator of many a school girl prank! One of her prized possessions was a watercolour of the school’s Chapel which she kept in her apartment in the Barbican, a gentle reminder perhaps of those carefree days.
She went on to read Pharmacy and graduated from ‘John Moore’s’ in 1965 .A career in hospital pharmacy in the Chester Hospitals followed which culminated in her being appointed as Director of Pharmaceutical Services at the (then new) Countess of Chester Hospital.
Ann was always fascinated by law, ethics and governance and quite early in her career completed a law degree with honours and was subsequently called to the Bar at Grays Inn. It was this ‘dual qualification’ that would shape her eventual career path.
Never content to ‘stand in the wings’ and simply observe, Ann embraced the wider aspects of her profession and served on the Council of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for 12 years. She was elected President and served for 2 years with great distinction. It was during her inaugural speech as President that reference was made to the shipping forecast and the Butt of Lewis. Hence the poem read earlier which I know will have resonated with many of you here.
Her interest in the wider dimensions of the profession led to her involvement in continuing professional development and, after leaving the NHS, she worked with Peter Wilson as the Joint Director of the Centre for Postgraduate Education. She firmly believed that the profession did not utilise its skills base to best effect and she was soon to have the opportunity to influence the direction of travel.
Ann became the Secretary and Registrar of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in 1998, a position for which she was ideally suited enabling her utilise both of her professional qualifications and to draw on her wide breadth of experience. She took the role on at what can best be described as ‘a challenging time’ but one which Ann rose to in her characteristic way.
She oversaw the roll out of ‘Pharmacy in a New Age’. The initiative that we all affectionately used to refer to as ‘PIANA’ - an acronym which used to irritate her intensely. (I can still visualise those royal blue coloured documents with the bright orange flash.) It was a monumental task but one which Ann and her team achieved with the minimum of fuss.
Whilst Ann had a very successful career, life was not always plain sailing and she weathered a number of storms along the way. ( That Butt of Lewis has a lot to answer for!)
Like many hospital pharmacists holding senior management positions she became entangled in numerous NHS Reorganisations. She faced the legal challenge over the Society’s Charter. Then towards the end of her career she had to face, for her possibly the most distressing challenge, the change in Government Policy in respect of Professional Regulation and the subsequent split in the Society’s functions.
On a personal basis, this was to prove a particularly difficult time for both of us as we found ourselves on ‘opposite sides of the fence’.
Fortunately our friendship was founded on ‘solid ground’ and withstood the ravages of that period.
Despite the ‘occasional storm’ there were periods of ‘prolonged sunshine’ too and Ann was the recipient of many accolades in recognition of her contribution to the profession:- the Schering Award for Pharmaceutical Practice, the Evans Gold medal from the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists , Honorary Fellowship from John Moore’s University, Honorary Doctorate from Sunderland University, Honorary Membership of the American Pharmacists Association and ,in 2009 ,the Society’s Charter Gold Medal.
One of her most cherished awards, however, was her OBE which she was awarded in 1997.I remember her carrying it to Vancouver later that year to show to her Canadian friends who had never seen an actual OBE. The OBE was left in the hotel safe whilst we travelled to the Yukon and Alaska to indulge in Whale Watching and White Water Rafting.
Elizabeth will remember that, on our return to Vancouver, our luggage (including hand luggage) had not made it from Seattle. The hotel was very understanding, promptly upgraded us to a rather gorgeous room and, on observing our somewhat scruffy state ,tactfully suggested that we might prefer to have dinner served in our room. There we sat resplendent in fluffy bathrobes and slippers with Ann wearing her OBE!
Ann was well known all over the pharmaceutical world for her thoughtful, insightful and positive contribution to the profession; be it to the administrative, educational or political side and was still an active participant in FIP – the international body.
She had a great affection for the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association where she helped to develop education and training plans and to build up standards.
She was a superb communicator and could ‘work a room’ so well she could have given master classes. She was an accomplished public speaker and was frequently asked to present at conferences and meetings. She rarely said ‘no’ and went wherever she was asked to go, she was a fantastic ambassador for the profession .The testimony to her world status has come in the many tributes that have flowed in from Australia, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, India, and the United States to name but a few.
We can all recall stories of Ann and her escapades at some conference or other. She had the capacity to enjoy life to the full and whenever you travelled with her you were bound to be maximising the opportunity, visiting exciting places or doing extraordinary things you would probably not have done without Ann’s encouragement.
Graeme Smith’s story in the PJ last month typified her approach to life. During a Commonwealth Pharmacists Conference in Jamaica, he unwittingly said that the parascending, pulled by boats, they were watching ‘looked like fun’ .Ann responded that she had always fancied ‘having a go’. Needless to say the next morning found the pair of them, well out to sea, suspended at considerable height. Talk about being hoisted by your own petard!
Ann was a liveryman with the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries and, living in the Barbican, meant that she was able to enter into the Society’s activities with her usual verve and energy. This included driving a flock of sheep over London Bridge – a privilege afforded to Freeman of the City of London. Only Ann would think of exercising her right to that privilege, she was joined by Nick Wood in this venture and together they raised a good sum of money for charity.
I know that Tom will treasure the memory of the Carol Service they attended together just before last Christmas and it is fitting that the reception following this Service is to be held at Apothecaries Hall.
Over the last 5 years, Ann discovered there was ‘life after pharmacy’. She had a wide range of interests; art, ballet, cricket, music (particularly jazz), poetry and... collecting Moose.
Yes, I know most people collect teddy bears, but not Ann .Failure to spot the elusive Moose on her first visit to Canada resulted in her becoming the recipient of several Moose – of the stuffed variety. Over the years the collection grew to include all manner of articles associated with Moose including chocolate moose droppings.
Retirement afforded her the opportunity to indulge in some of her passions in life. Wildlife featured heavily, if she wasn’t observing the migration of Wildebeest in Kenya, or bird watching in the Pantanal, she was in a hide watching Red Kites in Wales.
I was surprised when one day she announced she was going to Abercych, an exceedingly small blip on the map, until I realised that it was virtually on the banks of one of the best salmon fishing rivers in Wales – the Teifi and that Ann had discovered a new passion – angling.
Which brings me to the subject of ‘waders’ ,it does not take much to imagine the fun she had attempting to find a suitable pair of waders, Ann’s dimensions and those of waders were not exactly compatible and much chortling ensued to the amusement of all involved.
She wanted to transmit her enthusiasm for nature to the younger generation and she became a volunteer for the National Trust at Erddig, not far from her home in Marford. What attracted her to Erddig was the working farm and its ponds and the opportunity to teach schoolchildren about the things she was so passionate about.
Whenever possible Ann took the opportunity to travel either with Tom or with one or more of her many friends. In fact she was scheduled to have been in Norway watching the Northern Lights with Jane Nicholson –right now. They had been in the process of finalising arrangements and discussing their itinerary when the subject of whether to take a trip on a dog sledge came up. By all accounts it was quite an animated conversation which ended with one of them saying, ‘oh for heaven’s sake stop being such a wimp’.
The observant amongst you will have noted that Jane is not here today - she is, at this precise moment, on a dog sledge, accompanied by her sister in law, raising a glass to Ann.
There was one continent, however, that had won Ann’s heart and that was Africa. I think she had been entranced ever since someone gave her a Chief’s seat in Ghana. She had travelled widely across the continent but it was after her retirement that she became involved with the Nyambani Home for AIDS orphans near Nairobi, Kenya. She felt she was able to contribute to the project in a tangible way, she raised money for it by organising events, visited it and worked in it and only last September took an extra suitcase of children’s clothes with her – no mean feat when you think of her stature -but typical of Ann to put others before herself.
It was the combination of her outstanding professional achievements couples with her charitable work that resulted in her being made a Paul Harris Fellow, the highest accolade awarded by Rotary International.
One of Ann’s great strengths was as a friend, and my goodness she had a lot of them – you only have to look around today to see how many of you have made the journey to this Service today.
She had a real gift for friendship, she was generous with her time and her hospitality. She would offer you a bed if you needed it, ply you with food and drink, listen to your woes patiently before giving you wise counsel and then suggesting that it was time to change the subject!
Ann was one of life’s enthusiasts who made life so much nicer. Modest in the extreme, she had a heart of gold and we shall all miss her Midas touch, her integrity, her wisdom, her friendship and... her irrepressible chuckle.
I feel privileged to have known Ann and, to quote Christine (Glover)
‘What a woman, what a sister, what a pharmacist, what a friend’
Tom, you can feel justifiably proud of your ‘big’ sister just as I know she would be proud of you today too. Together with your new companion Leo ( the new guide dog – who is just gorgeous), you are about to embark on a new chapter of your life and relocate to Chester .Our love and best wishes go with you for a happy and successful future – the one Ann would have wished for you.
Lesley Hughes read Ecclesiasticus 38: 1-12
1 Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him: for the Lord hath created him.
2 For of the most High cometh healing, and he shall receive honour of the king.
3 The skill of the physician shall lift up his head: and in the sight of great men he shall be in admiration.
4 The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them.
5 Was not the water made sweet with wood, that the virtue thereof might be known?
6 And he hath given men skill, that he might be honoured in his marvellous works.
7 With such doth he heal men, and taketh away their pains.
8 Of such doth the apothecary make a confection; and of his works there is no end; and from him is peace over all the earth,
9 My son, in thy sickness be not negligent: but pray unto the Lord, and he will make thee whole.
10 Leave off from sin, and order thine hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all wickedness.
11 Give a sweet savour, and a memorial of fine flour; and make a fat offering, as not being.
12 Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him: let him not go from thee, for thou hast need of him.
Elizabeth Morgan read Two Ann(e)s by Wendy Cope
Janet Cowen read Closedown by Wendy Cope
Christine Glover read Great Minds by Eleanor Roosevolt
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.
Christine Glover read Success by Bessie A Stanley
She has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best she had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.
The choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-
God Be In My Head - Walford-Davies
Strengthen Ye The Weak Hands - Harris
And I Saw A New Heaven - Bainton
With A Little Help From My Friends - Lennon/McCartney
Praise To The Lord, The Almighty, The King Of Creation
Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind
Thine Be The Glory