New year, New Chair!

It's all change here at the charity this January, for as well as welcoming a new Chief Exec into the fold, we also have a new (although not new to us!) Chair of the Board.

It’s all change here at the charity this January, for as well as welcoming a new Chief Exec into the fold, we also have a new (although not new to us!) Chair of the Board. At the start of the year, Steve Lutener, one of our existing trustees stepped up into the role of Chair, succeeding Anita Cawley, who returns to the position of Vice Chair. We caught up with Steve to find out what he was looking forward to most in his new role!

How long have you been a Trustee at Pharmacist Support & what prompted you to put yourself forward for the Chair vacancy?

I have been a Trustee for almost three years.  When Anita Cawley informed the Board of her intention to step down as Chair by the end of 2018, I wanted to see a smooth handover to a new Chair to maintain stability within the Charity.  As Vice Chair, I had worked closely with Anita, and the other Trustees, and felt that my knowledge of the work of the Charity and my passion for it to succeed, would help me to serve the Board in that role.

Tell us a bit about your career?

I registered as a pharmacist in 1980.  I chose community pharmacy and for seven years enjoyed helping patients manage their healthcare needs.  I had expected to make a lifetime’s career out of working at the sharp end of community pharmacy, but an advertisement in the Pharmaceutical Journal led me into the employment of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society – first as a pharmacy Inspector and a short time later, in the headquarters’ staff.  It was during this time I became more aware of the Benevolent Fund (the predecessor of the Charity).  I helped to process annual retention fee forms from pharmacists – which in those days often included generous donations to the fund.  The Listening Friends Scheme and the Sick Pharmacists Scheme (which is now the Addiction Support Programme) were both established during my time at the RPSGB.  I joined the staff at Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee in 2003 just as the ‘New Pharmacy Contract’ was being developed.  This was a really exciting time, as community pharmacists would be given their first opportunity to provide clinical advice services under a national contract.  I have spent the majority of my working life helping pharmacists with all sorts of issues, and in 2016 when I saw that the Charity was recruiting Trustees, I did not hesitate to apply.  I retired later that year, having commuted into London for almost 30 years – I still miss the people, but I certainly do not miss the commute!

What do you enjoy most about your work with the charity?

We exist for the sole purpose of providing pharmacists, their families, former pharmacists and students help and support in times of need.  So for me, and the other Trustees, the most enjoyable times are when we hear from the staff or the Charity’s volunteers that our work has made a difference.

What are you looking forward to in your role as Chair?

We have a tremendous staff team supported by an ever growing team of volunteers (Listening Friends, Home Visitors and Ambassadors).  We have a Board of nine experienced Trustees and we have just appointed Danielle Hunt as our new Chief Executive.  With such a fine team, I am looking forward to working with the Board and staff to increase awareness of our services, as well as broadening our sources of funding to ensure the Charity continues in perpetuity.  I hope also to get the opportunity to meet with our volunteers to thank them in person for all their support.

Apart from Pharmacist Support, what are your main interests?

I am a Trustee of a sixth form Multi Academy Trust where I am a member of its Audit Committee and its Strategy Working Group.  This Trust and Pharmacist Support are my priorities, but I manage to fit in ringing bells at various church towers most evenings of the week, and I get out on my cycle three or four mornings a week.  So I keep myself mentally and physically active!