Pharmacy legend Gill prescribed retirement after 52 years

Pharmacy worker in shop with uniform on

Pharmacy legend Gill Fosh - Credit: Submitted

Gill Fosh finally gets to put her feet up today after a remarkable 52 years as a Torquay pharmacy worker.

She was born Gill Hanslip in 1953 in the old Shrublands Maternity Home in Morgan Avenue, Torquay and is the youngest of three children with two older brothers who went on to become local solicitors.

Their family home was at her parents B&B in Avenue Road. Her early school years saw her attend Cockington Primary school  and then Westhill.

In 1967 Gill started a job as a 'Saturday' girl at the Babbacombe pharmacy in Reddenhill Road at the age of 14. She really enjoyed working under owner, the late Mrs Ros Hepper.

She had a skill of presenting a happy, friendly face to the public which would be displayed for decades to come.

In 1969 Gill was offered a full time position on leaving school. She was just 15 when she became a Pharmacy Dispensing Assistant.

Gill  developed a passion for Old Time Modern and Sequence dancing. It was here where she met Michael Fosh. Romance blossomed and they wed in 1980. She became a qualified teacher in the International Dance Teachers Association and regularly taught at the Co Op Hall in Mill Lane. Sometimes, she was even known to dance across the shop floor.

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Mrs Hepper passed away in 1985 and Ray Clayton left the then Quants pharmacy to take over at Babbacombe.

In 1991 the pharmacy was bought by John and Bernadette Hinder. They also owned the Watcombe, Shiphay and Sherwell Valley pharmacies all of which Gill would work in at some time.

Bernadette recalls Gill enjoying her holidays in 'a tin tent' (a caravan) highlighting Gill’s dry sense of humour.

Bernadette says “Gilly’s contribution to pharmacy cannot be underestimated. The changes that have occurred through her time have seen her adapt so professionally due to her profound caring attitude towards our patients.”

Gill spent some years working out of the Watcombe branch. Many of these staff still work alongside Gill today and have so many happy memories.

Gill would let out one of her unique ditties without really trying to be funny. Her phone calls to one of the other pharmacies for a certain medication or assistance may have begun with “Hello, it’s trouble here….” and then it may be followed by ”Please could I speak to the ointment department..”

In 2005 John and Bernadette sold their pharmacies to Andrew Lane. In 2008 Andrew sold the pharmacies to Sian Retallick of Poolearth Ltd who still owns them today.

Gill continued to work out of Watcombe before returning to her roots at Babbacombe in around 2010. By now prescriptions were often sent via the internet and she joked they were sent by “Sputnik 5.”

Sian says: "I will miss her cheerful, helpful nature, always first to help a patient or colleague. Our pharmacy team will miss her, but we all wish her well as she starts her new adventure.”

Gill moved on to Sherwell Valley pharmacy six years ago. The two pharmacists there speak of her with a huge amount of respect and admiration.

Linda Solomon says “Gill has a unique sense of humour and she uses this to create a happy atmosphere with a willing smile and a friendly approach. I know all of our customers will miss her."

Cathy Vernon says “She always wears a contagious smile and lightens the day."

Gill barely had to take time off in her 52 years - although there was one occasion when she stood on a chrysanthemum in Marks & Spencers, slipped and fractured her elbow. She was so proud of her ”bionic” arm after having metal inserted.

Gill retires today to spend her time with her husband Mike at their home in Torquay. She may join him at his Aquacise classes, or “synchronised drowning” as she calls it. She may even learn gardening. Whatever she does it will certainly be with a smile on her face!