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Bill Darling

William Martindale (Bill) Darling OBE, CBE, DL (1934-2017) 

Pharmacy Class of early 1950s 

Having been born in South Shields, Bill Darling studied at the School in the early 1950s, serving as BPSA Sunderland Branch Chairman in 1953-55. On qualifying, he took over the family retail businesses in South Shields, but also began his life-long contribution to pharmacy politics. Having been elected to the Pharmaceutical Society's Council in 1962, he became Vice-President in 1968, and President in 1971, the youngest person to serve in the role to that point. He remained on the Council for 39 years.

At a national level, he chaired the standing pharmaceutical advisory committee to the Department of Health from 1974 to 2001. He also served on the Nuffield Inquiry board. In 1990 he became inaugural chair of the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts, now the NHS Confederation. Between 1972 and 2003, he led the UK delegation to the Pharmacy Group of the European Union, as its president in 1985-86. He was awarded an OBE in 1972, and a CBE in 1988.  

He played a significant role in the North East. He chaired the Gateshead and South Tyneside Health Authority for more than 25 years between 1974 and 2002. He served on the governing body of both the Polytechnic and the University between 1988-2003. He was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the University in 1990 and awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 2003. In 2000, he served as Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear.   

On his death, Lord Hunt whom Bill Darling appointed as director of the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts, reflected: “The pharmaceutical profession has lost a huge champion and the NHS has lost a very wise leader – a man of the highest integrity, admired by all who knew him.”

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