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Congratulations to Pharmacy Centre member Alison Sparkes - Community Pharmacist of the Year 2012

Alison Sparkes from Medicine Centre in Neath, Wales was awarded Community Pharmacist of the year – an award for the industry magazine – Chemist & Druggist - that recognises outstanding achievement by community pharmacists throughout Britain.

She won the award for creating her modern Medicine Centre pharmacy and adding a Wellness Centre offering complimentary services such as acupuncture and aromatherapy which demonstrates what pharmacy may offer in the future.  Something offering so much more than prescriptions and cold treatments and advice.

Alison demonstrated the ability to adapt to her customers, driven on by her dedication,  ambition and imagination.

She said "We bought the property [for the Wellness Centre] in 2010 and then most of 2011 was spent getting up to speed, so we really gutted the place and now we've got a training room, a reception and four separate treatment rooms."

And so far the signs are encouraging. "It's going really well. We've got a lot of practitioners coming in and a lot of the general public accessing wellness treatments, so it's exciting times, " says Alison.

Alison’s pharmacy was already pretty well-established in the local community when she decided to expand the business and include the health and wellbeing element.

There was a building next door that gave her the opportunity to expand as she explains: "Obviously it's ideal if you can develop it on the backbone of your pharmacy, I was very pleased with the physical kit-out of the property and I looked a little bit wider than pharmacy shopfit teams – we actually had an office shopfitters who came in and did it – so I think contractors should look a bit wider perhaps than the traditional route," she explains.

Trying to do everything herself was something Alison found difficult to delegate. In the end, letting go and actually bringing people in to do some of the more practical jobs benefited the business. "I found that I'm a really bad receptionist. I didn't want to go down the road initially of hiring someone for appointments, but I think when you're running the wellness angle...it involves a lot of different skills, which I've have had to learn," she says.

Since the Wellness Centre opened it's been "exciting but challenging", she admits. When your agenda is opening a wellness centre and sort of incorporating the pharmacy as part of that ethos, that moves the goal posts, so it really is something you have to learn as you go along. So I don't think I would have done anything differently, but I think planning is key and you have to learn as you go along."

Well done and well deserved Alison, we hope you continue to lead the way in pharmacy innovation and hope your website has played some small part in your success.