Lancing pharmacist known as 'the oracle' presented with prestigious British Citizen Award
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Shabbir Jafferali said the medal, which was presented to him at the Palace of Westminster on Thursday, made him realise how much he and his business meant to the community.
Shabbir said when he bought the business, it was running at a loss and investors were concerned about the risk but he was keen to take up the opportunity.
He explained: "The bank looked at my business plan and asked me if I was sure. They said you don't know Lancing. I said that is exactly what I am going to do and if I say I am going to do it, I will.
"After about three months it started to make good progress and suddenly proceeds started to go up. There is no secret to it, I was just doing things that an ordinary human should do, look after each other, make conversation and try to listen to people. There are no gimmicks, it is just straightforward."
Shabbir said the 1980s were the golden years. Word got around and he also benefited from being introduced to the parish council and recommended at the local church by Mr Wilmshurst.
"He said he had a feeling that here was a man who would look after people for many years," Shabbir added.
"I enjoyed getting to know people. My style for the post was not just working hard – I was putting in long hours, I brought in a bit of fun and joy to make life just a bit more interesting. It was about getting to know people but also I learned a lot about the community."
Shabbir became known locally as 'the oracle' and the award was presented for his 'extraordinary endeavours', providing not only an excellent pharmacy but a listening ear and genuine community care.
He said: "It is a great honour. It has made me realise that the community loves me as much as I love them, after all this time that I have served it. It is something special and it gives you a buzz."
The honour is in recognition of ‘exceptional positive impact on society and as an inspiration to others’. It recognises the personal attention and care Shabbir has given to his customers, influencing his whole team to behave with respect, courtesy and kindness.
During the Covid 19 pandemic, Shabbir and his team worked from dawn to dusk, seven days a week, to make sure everyone received their prescriptions.
More recently, after discovering a recently-bereaved person's blood pressure had suddenly became dangerously high, Shabbir attended the pharmacy all over a weekend to take blood pressure readings and to provide advice and support.
When another customer broke down in the pharmacy, Shabbir took time and patience to help them to recover, providing not only advice but genuine support and true kindness.
He was one of 28 remarkable people to be recognised by the Cabinet Office for the 2024 new year and receive one of The People's Honours in recognition of their extraordinary endeavours as true community heroes.
Shabbir's nomination highlighted the way he not only provides healthcare, he takes a genuine interest in the health and wellbeing of everyone. He takes the time to get to know the names and ailments of all those who use his pharmacy, as well as their personal circumstances, treating everyone with sensitivity and care.
The British Citizen Award, in partnership with One Stop, is now in its 10th year and recognises exceptional people who positively impact their communities throughout the country.
Organisers said with local GPs under intense pressure, having the reassurance and healthcare provided by Shabbir meant more health needs were being met and people felt listened to.
"For over 40 years, Shabbir’s impact has been not only his professional services relating to healthcare, but genuine concern for the emotional wellbeing of his fellow community members, making time for everyone, providing not just an excellent pharmacy, but a listening ear and genuine community care."
The medal presentation was hosted by TV presenter Matt Allwright and attended by BCA patrons Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, and the Rt Hon Lord Dholakia.
Stephanie Wood, director at BCA partner One Stop, said: "This year’s medallists have reminded us of how many amazing people are supporting our communities, especially during such a challenging time.
"At One Stop, we serve many communities across the country, and we know how important voluntary work is to support those in need. We're proud to be partnering with the BCA again and to play a small part in helping each medallist to be recognised. Our congratulations go to all honourees.”
After the presentations at the Palace of Westminster, medallists boarded an Open Top Lap of Honour tour provided by Big Bus London, before attending a certificate presentation and afternoon tea at the prestigious Church House.