Chemist up for award

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A BALLYCASTLE man who is a pharmacist in Easter Ross in the Highlands area of Scotland and is playing his part in bringing a range of innovative services to the community he serves is up for a top award - only six months after opening.

James Higgins, manager of Alness Pharmacy, is one of the three finalists for Scottish Pharmacist of the Year. An Awards Night will be held in Edinbury on February 26.

Mr Higgins said he had visited the Highlands a few times, fell in love with the area, and decided to relocate.

He believes the nomination is in recognition of the range of services - including needle exchange; testing and smoking counselling.

He said when he first arrived in Alness he realised that locals weren’t getting access to a lot of services available in his previous urban practices in Belfast and Edinburgh.

“Some of these problems, such as travel, are surmountable - all it takes is a little bit of imagination and time. All the staff here have been really supportive and thrown their weight behind it, with the help of the local surgeries,” he said.

“It has worked out well. The reaction from local people has been fantastic, they have been so appreciative of things,” he added.