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Alex Salmond, pharmacy, the Turra Coo and a sunny day in Turriff



I HAD the pleasure of meeting the local SNP candidate for the upcoming elections, Gillian Martin. She was accompanied on a sunny Saturday afternoon by Alex Salmond. Give the SNP credit, they have been campaigning in Turriff every Saturday across the road from the pharmacy. One glance across the road from my dispensing bench, I can see a hive of activity.

Alex Salmond has lived nearby, in Strichen, for many more years than I have been in Turriff, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to meet him. I was very grateful that both Gillian and Alex took the time to pop in and see my team.

I think he was a little surprised because the conversation was largely about pharmacy. On explaining that I was involved in the RPS elections he had some great advice for which I am very grateful. I presented Alex and Gillian with an RPS manifesto, although Alex joked that he should really be presenting me with his manifesto.

We spoke about the need for pharmacists to have access to patient records and more broadly that community pharmacists are a very underused resource. He was interested to hear about my new role as an independent prescriber and was interested to know how pharmacy will change in the coming years. These topics are close to my heart, because I think by achieving some of these goals my care of my patient population could improve.

These are points for which I am willing to take action, not only for my own interest, but also for the benefit of fellow pharmacists, hence I am standing for election to the RPS board.

Gillian is a supporter of the role that pharmacists play in the future of the NHS, particularly delivering care right at the heart of the community.


As we were photographed by the Coo we remembered the story of the ‘Turra Coo‘.

This Coo caused considerable controversy just over 100 years ago. The story revolved around the implementation of the National Insurance payments. Local folk thought at the time it unfair that such charges be enforced upon them and therefore refused to pay. This cow was seized from Robert Paterson’s farm near Turriff at Lendrum, because it was the only thing of value from his farm that could be moved. The fine that he paid was due to his refusal to pay the new National Insurance payment implemented by the then Liberal Government. It is a curious tale, because the quiet town of Turriff grew rather militant in standing up for a principle in which they believed.

The cow was eventually sold to a man in Aberdeen. However, in defiance, the local public clubbed together and bought the cow back for £7 to live out its days back at Lendrum farm near Turriff.

You can read more about the story here.

The story of the Turra Coo is a local one, but it revolved around a point of principle. As a pharmacy professional I can see some parallels in this story with the current, very difficult, environment within which ‘coal-face’ pharmacists operate and deliver excellent care.

Alex said that it was ok to stand up for what you believe in. Be professional, polite but never give up. For me of course I care deeply about my profession and as such he wished me all the best for the upcoming board election.

Johnathan Laird is a community pharmacist independent prescriber with a special interest in asthma. He is based in Aberdeen and is a candidate for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Scottish Board

Follow Johnathan @JohnathanLaird

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