Belleek pharmacist wins top award at NI 'Pharmacy Oscars'

"I don’t see it as work as I have always loved community pharmacy"

Belleek pharmacist wins top award at NI 'Pharmacy Oscars'

Joanne Murphy, Maria McGuinness and Erin Murphy at the "Oscars" Joanne and Erin are both pharmacy students, following in mum's footsteps.

Belleek pharmacist Maria McGuinness, walked away with the coveted Pharmacist of the Year accolade in Northern Ireland for her outstanding work in the community.

She picked up her award at the pharmacists “Oscars” in Belfast earlier this month.

Maria's standing in the local community is well established. No issue is too trivial for her to deal with.

The esteem in which Maria is held can be clearly seen from this testimonial, which was submitted by one of her patients, who had contacted the Ulster Chemists Association UCA-NI because she was so overwhelmed by the care and attention that Maria had given her during a difficult time.  
"When someone passes away in the community," a local woman, who did not want to named, said in her testimonial: "Maria is usually the first there, asking what she can do to help on both a personal and professional level. My late mother used to say ‘Maria McGuinness is better than any doctor’ and she was right!"

Maria was joined by her husband Brendan and four children, Aidan, Conor, Joanne and Erin at the gala awards in the Crown Plaza in Belfast where she was presented with an Oscar.

Interestingly all of Maria’s children are studying Pharmacy - which must be another record of sorts.

There are around 700 pharmacies in Northern Ireland, and this is the first time the award has come to west Ulster.

“I was nominated by a lady in the community, and I heard I was nominated at the end of November and before Christmas I was told that I had been shortlisted.

“It’s a bit like the Oscars and you get an Oscar and you never know anything until it is announced on the night,” she told Donegal Live.

“There was a big crowd there and a great atmosphere and it was nice that the MC on the night BBC’s Mark Simpson mentioned that our four children were also pursuing similar careers to my own.

“The award was the last one to be announced so there was a lot of tension building and I had no expectation whatsoever.

“I was in total shock when my name was called out, but I don’t feel I deserve it as all I am doing is my job. It is not just customers it is about patient focus and that is not money across the counter. It is a vocation with me as I am very lucky to be doing the job that I absolutely love.

“It is the public that come here from all over south Donegal that makes this so special. It is great to be able to help so many people and that has encouraged and sustained me for 30 years. I don’t see myself as doing anything special.

“I don’t see it as work as I have always loved community pharmacy and felt fulfilled by it," she added.

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