RICHARD THOMAS, a Finchampstead man who received an MBE in recognition of his life-saving work during lockdown, has to pull over his car when we talk.
For he was out delivering medicine to vulnerable and shielding patients – on New Year’s Eve, when most people were preparing the shortbread and black bun for their parties.
“It’s good to be recognised,” he says. “It was a big surprise.
“I got an email from the Cabinet Office, I thought, ‘Oh, what’s this?’ and it wasn’t a scam, it was a proper Government thing. It was a pleasant surprise.”
He was nominated for his work in the medical sector, delivering medicines to vulnerable people.
“Back in March, when (health secretary) Matt Hancock stood up and said your community pharmacists will deliver to you, we thought we’d better do that,” he said. “So we delivered to all the shielding patients in South Oxfordshire and everyone over 70.
“I’ve delivered about 10,000 prescriptions over 2020, it’s quite a lot.
“I’ve been pretty well full-time all year.”
Mr Thomas owns the pharmacist, which works across the South Oxfordshire area. He said that shielding patients were having great difficulty getting their medicine and if he hadn’t started his delivery service, they would have worried.
“It’s been peace of mind for them,” he said.
“I’ve got job satisfaction from it, getting around and seeing people. A lot of the people I see are extremely ill, some are end-of-life patients, and we’re doing them good.
“They wonder where their pain relief is going to come from suddenly I turn up and they say, ‘thank goodness you’re here in time before we get really sick again’.”
And he was very modest about his MBE. “It’s recognition for what we’ve been doing – it’s for community pharmacy, which is often the forgotten bit of the NHS.
“Somebody, somewhere has noticed it and appreciated it, and I’m very pleased.”