Helen Retires From Pharmacy After 50 Years

Video messages from as far afield as Texas helped mark the retirement of a pharmacy technician after more than 50 years of working with the NHS in Forth Valley.

Helen McCabe’s half a century of service saw changes from filling pharmacy boxes and pre-packing tablets and liquids to the opening of a new acute hospital, the creation of a new pharmacy department, electronic prescribing and robotic dispensing.

Helen joined the Pharmacy Department at the former Stirling Royal Infirmary in 1972. Two years later she qualified as a pharmacy technician after being awarded the Certificate for Pharmacy Technicians from the Scottish Technical Council at the David Dale College in Glasgow. In 1979, she took up a position of pharmacy technician at Bellsdyke Hospital remaining there until the reconfiguration of hospital pharmacy services at the end of the Central Scotland Healthcare Trust in 1998. During that time, she received several promotions and enrolled in the first HNC in Pharmaceutical Sciences course offered by Telford College and was awarded the qualification in 1993. This was followed swiftly with the Pharmacy Checking Technician Course in 1995.

Helen subsequently returned to Stirling Royal Infirmary as Senior Pharmacy Technician and in 2000 became Team Leader Pharmacy Services for Forth Valley Acute Hospitals Trust. In 2009, she became Operational Services Manager.

Colleagues from across the pharmacy community, including former Directors of Pharmacy, joined Helen’s final celebration. Fiona McIntyre, NHS Forth Valley Associate Director of Pharmacy, Acute and Specialist Services, told her: “We’ve commented many times that you could write a book with the changes you have seen and the success you’ve had in steering this ship through many a storm and coming out the other side.

“Forth Valley has benefitted hugely from your loyalty, commitment, dedication and reliability. You have gone over and above for this service and for the team on a regular basis. You are an incredible role model, not only for pharmacy technicians, but for all of us.”

Helen, who was given a round of applause in a pharmacy guard of honour, admits she was dreading retirement, but says she has plenty of plans.

She explained: “I’m just taking a little time to decide what I am going to do. I was overwhelmed by the number of messages, cards and presents and so many people have been getting in touch and texting that I am booked every weekend until the end of April 2022.”

Gifts from colleagues included two pieces from a Dunblane glass blower and a framed wood art print in the shape of a mortar and pestle.