Fifty years service for Ardoyne pharmacy assistant celebrated

Fifty years service for Ardoyne pharmacy assistant celebrated
Adrian and Barbara Rice, son Peter and director Nicola (left) with members of staff and Isabel Keenan outside McKenzies (Image courtesy of: Justin Kernoghan, Belfast Live)

A woman who started working for a local pharmacy on 1st July 1971 was somewhat shocked and surprised to see her colleagues celebrating her golden anniversary in-store and out – with a balloon arch to welcome her and all sorts of cakes and surprises inside.

“I knew as soon as I saw the balloons what they’d done – it was a special gesture and I was delighted” said Isabel Keenan. Owners Peter, Adrian and Barbara Rice organised the special treat on her 50th anniversary – and even after all these years, she says her bosses are ‘just lovely to work for.’

NR asked Isabel if she’d seen some changes since she first walked through the doors of the Ardoyne Pharmacy as a fourteen year old schoolgirl?

“Absolutely. It was the height of the troubles, but we worked through thick and thin and just got on with it. I’m from the Antrim Road area, and at first I did a Friday after school and a Saturday, then when I left school the following year I became full time and have been here ever since,” Isabel told NR.

“I’ve always loved the job in the early days I walked to work up the Crumlin Road, but I’ve been driving thirty years now. In those days everything was written by hand. We had to count everything manually. Now it’s mainly blister packs and printed labels – pharmacy has certainly changed over the years – there’s even robots dispensing these days.”

McKenzies in Ardoyne is still a family owned and run pharmacy – at the heart of healthcare in the local community – and this is an aspect of the job that Isabel clearly loves.

How was it through Covid?

“We just got on with it and took all the precautions” she said.

NR congratulates Isabel Keenan on her fifty years service to McKenzies Pharmacy – certainly a job well done!