David Coleman: Norfolk pharmacist made OBE

David Coleman OBE

David Coleman OBE - Credit: submitted

One of the country's leading pharmacists, David Coleman, who has died suddenly aged 73, campaigned for better pharmacies in rural areas and especially in his native Norfolk.

After his two-year term as national president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in 1993, he became an OBE for services to the profession, which was presented at an investiture at Buckingham Palace by the Queen.

He had bought a small pharmacy in High Street, Stalham, in the 1960s and considerably expanded the business over the next quarter of a century.

A pharmacist's son, David Lionel Coleman, who was born in Norwich in 1939, went to Town Close and then the City of Norwich School before qualifying in pharmacy at Leicester. After working at his father's shop in St Augustine's, Norwich, he started his own business at Stalham.

He fought to improve access to pharmacies, especially in rural areas, where doctors had enjoyed a near-monopolistic share of the market. As a member of the society's rural dispensing committee, he tried to achieve a balance between the competing commercial interests. At a time when pharmacists could not prescribe within a mile of a doctor's surgery, there was considerable tension between the medical and pharmaceutical professions.


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In April 1972, he won a national prize of an electronic calculator, valued at £315, which was particularly appreciated given the impending introduction of Value Added Tax.

A board member of the National Pharmaceutical Association, he was chairman from 1980 to 1981, and a member of the pharmaceutical services negotiating committee for 25 years including 13 as deputy chairman.

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In May 1982, he was awarded a fellowship by the RPS and was first elected to the society's council in 1987, and later serving as treasurer. He was presented with its Charter gold medal in 1999.

He had married Janet in April 1970 at Sprowston Methodist Church, when members of the 6th and 11th Norwich Scouts formed a guard of honour for the bride and groom, who were both involved with the scout groups. Scouting was another of his lifelong interests and became group leader of Stalham scouts.

A former chairman of Stalham Town Council, he was a member of the management committee of the Town Hall for many years. He was involved in local affairs and was a longstanding chairman of the governors of Stalham First School and a leading member of the town's Chamber of Commerce.

After moving to Dilham, he was able to indulge his love of gardening by restoring an overgrown walled garden. After the pharmacy was sold, he continued as a locum for several years until he finally retired when he became a volunteer for the National Trust in the woods at Sheringham Park.

He was a member of the parish council at Dilham and had just retired as chairman of the village hall and playing field committee.

He leaves a widow, two sons, Richard and James, and four grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at Colney Wood Burial Park on Friday, May 17 at 11am.

Michael Pollitt

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