Real Lives: OBE award just the tonic for pharmacist

Professor Bill Scott.
Professor Bill Scott.
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The former chief pharmacist for the Scottish Government has told of his delight at being awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.

Professor Bill Scott, from Temple in Midlothian, received the award for services to healthcare.

The 66-year-old said: “I’m very privileged and honoured. It came as a surprise when I got a letter from the Cabinet Office in November that asked if you wanted your nomination to go forward.

“Then we had to wait until the list was published on their website at midnight on December 30.

“A couple of minutes after midnight someone texted me.

“I was up – just as well – but it was a very nice text to receive.

“I think another letter will be coming out in the next month or so asking whether you want to go to Holyrood or Buckingham Palace. I have not really made my mind up.

“I have been to Holyrood for work but I’ve never been to Buckingham Palace so it would be a first.”

Prof Scott was the chief pharmacy officer at the Scottish Government for 15 years, looking after plans for new drugs and pharmaceutical services in the high street and in hospitals.

He said: “It was very challenging, but also very interesting. No two days were ever the same.

“It was about 20 years in total before we had devolution. It was the Scottish Office before.

“After devolution it certainly became a lot bigger, as before devolution a lot of work was done in London.

“I think the main thing about devolution is that it makes the civil service and the ministers in Scotland more accountable to the Scottish people.

“I’m privileged to have had a career like that. I retired at the end of March last year.

“I’m getting used to it. It’s certainly different when you are not having to make sure you have done your work.”

Before working for the government, Prof Scott was chief pharmacist for Tayside Health Board for three years, principal pharmacist at the Western General for eight years and staff pharmacist for three years at the Eastern General.

Despite such a prestigious careers, Prof Scott left school aged 15 with no qualifications.

He said: “It was tough. I went to night school to get the qualifications I needed to become a pharmacist. I left school with nothing.”

Prof Scott married his wife, Catherine, in 1974.

They have two children – Fraser and Fiona – and two grandchildren – Katie and Jamie.

The professor, born and bred in Shotts, first lived in Temple in the 1980s before moving to Dundee, but moved back to the village four years ago. He also lived in Bonnyrigg for a period

“I like it here. It’s very much home,” he said.