Staff/beneficiaries of the charity income

Lucy and Teresa – Pharmacy #IWD2022

By 4 March 2022No Comments
Lucy Hennessy

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, we’ve spoken to some of the fabulous women that work at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust that are inspiring future generations.

Lucy Hennessy (photographed) is the Deputy Chief Pharmacist at Airedale. Keep reading to find out about Lucy’s role, her career in pharmacy, the women she looks up to, and some great advice.

What is your role and how did you get into the field?

I am a Pharmacist. I always liked science and maths at school and found that I was really interested in the science behind how medicines worked in my weekend job as a carer in a nursing home. I wanted to know more, so I started work experience in a community Pharmacy, and although I enjoyed it, when I had the chance to do some work experience in a hospital Pharmacy, I found that I just loved it!

How would you describe your role?

Pharmacists are medicines experts, and we do all sorts – it’s a brilliant job! We check that medicines are safe and appropriate to give to patients – advise on the best choice of medicines, correct dosage, that they don’t interact with any other medicines that are being taken, and that patients have all the information they need to take their medicines safely and appropriately. We also check and authorise the production of medicines, including chemotherapy to treat cancer – made in very clean aseptic units like the one we have at Airedale. We usually specialise in a particular field, and advise lots of other healthcare professionals about medicines, (or prescribe them ourselves) – which medicines to choose, how to administer them, often give training and teaching, and can develop new medicines technologies.

I’ve have worked in all sorts of different and interesting places, including  community pharmacies – dispensing prescriptions and advising people on the best treatments for minor illnesses (you’d be surprised how many times people bring worms and lice to show you in matchboxes!) and a very big hospital with lots of very specialist conditions being treated. I had a really interesting time working in a vet poisons centre too – vets would ring us to ask how they should treat an animal that had eaten something that it should have done – I’ve researched everything from dogs eating contraceptive pills and hamsters eating whole chocolate bars to African grey parrots eating Sudafed capsules! There was never a dull day!

I am now the Deputy Chief Pharmacist at Airedale, which means I am responsible for the medicines we buy at Airedale, and I help lead the Pharmacy department – looking after and supporting the Pharmacy team that look after all of the medicines in use at Airedale. This year especially I have done lots to support the Covid-19 vaccination programme, and the use of new medicines to treat Covid-19.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?

Never – and I feel so fortunate for this. Growing up with awesome parents, it never even crossed my mind that my gender would be any sort of barrier to any achievement, and why should it be? I’ve got fabulous support at home now too. My husband and I are a true team – we both work and bring up our incredible daughters as a proper partnership, and support each other to work and parent to the best of our ability.

Who are the women that have inspired you?

That’s a hard question isn’t it, because there are far too many to mention, and I have some phenomenal friends and have worked with some incredible women… It’s leadership that I find really inspiring now – and especially what can be achieved through kindness.

  • My Mum (and my Grandma) – the original strong women in our family
  • Margaret – the manager of the care home I worked in when I was 16. She was a truly compassionate leader, and because of her kindness and flexibility, her staff moved mountains for her.
  • Maggie – a retired GP in Bradford, and the previous Chair of Trustees of my choir. Maggie is one of a kind – “if you can lead a group of volunteers, you can lead anyone” and she demonstrated this with real skill, through kindness and appreciation (and organisation!!).

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

It’s absolutely vital. It can be a struggle to get the balance right, especially when you’re working and have small children or other people to care for at home – supporting people to adjust this balance to provide the best for their families, and the best for our patients is really important.

What is the most important message that you would send to young women thinking about their careers?

It’s obviously very important to try your hardest at school or wherever you decide to take your education because it gives you more opportunities to have choices about future careers, but the people who are most impressive aren’t those with the best exam results; they are those with the best attitude – positivity, bravery, kindness and determination are really powerful, they can override academic ability and should never be underestimated.


Teresa Dakin is a Senior Pharmacy Assistant Technician at Airedale. In her interview, Teresa talks about her career in the NHS, what she does in her current role, and provides some great advice. Keep reading to find out more!

What is your role and how did you get into the field?

My current role is Senior Pharmacy Assistant Technician (SATO) working in the Aseptics unit in Airedale Hospital’s Pharmacy Department. I first joined Airedale as a Bank Pharmacy Assistant – this meant I wasn’t a permanent member of staff but I applied to work Bank hours, initially just one day a week to work around my family commitments, and my own business as a childminder. I then became a permanent member of staff and worked in Pharmacy Distribution. The distribution team are responsible for checking the stock of medicines kept on the wards and making sure they are topped up on a weekly basis. This meant I got opportunity to work on lots of wards, including A&E, Theatres and ICU. It also meant I had to complete my Level 2 BTEC in Pharmacy Services as this is a legal requirement of working in a pharmacy department.

Before becoming a mum, I had a 10 year career in the NHS as an Information Manager and also as an IT Project Manager working in primary care, supporting commissioning decisions (commissioners are the people responsible for paying for the services that are provided to patients). I spent a lot of my time supporting GP practices across Bradford and Airedale to provide the information we needed.  This involved a lot of data analysis and I had to become very good at using Excel.

After having children, and running a successful childminding business for 7 years, I decided that I would like the opportunity to learn some new skills and work in a hospital setting. I wasn’t specifically looking to work in Pharmacy, but I’m glad the opportunity came up as I’ve really enjoyed it!

How would you describe your role?

My current role is working in Aseptics. The Aseptics unit are responsible for making chemotherapy medicines to help provide care to cancer patients. It involves training on how to work in a clean room environment and the correct procedures on how to make drugs. It has also given me opportunity to use some of my data analysis skills again as there is a strong emphasis on audit and monitoring our processes to make sure that the unit maintains high standards and makes medicines in a safe environment.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?

I honestly don’t think I have ever experienced any barriers simply because I am a woman. I don’t feel that my gender was ever an issue. The most limiting factor is your own confidence in my experience.

Who are the women that have inspired you?

I can’t think of any women specifically who have inspired me over the years but I have had some fantastic male and female colleagues, both younger and older than me, who have been invaluable sources of support and information. There are many examples of strong women in history and literature that I find inspiring.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

There is great value in being able to confide in female colleagues and there are a few women that I will always remember who have provided me with great support, just by being great friends, great listeners, mentors, and providing sound advice when I’ve needed it.

What is the most powerful advice that you’ve been given?

I remember when I had worked full time for 10 years and felt I needed to explore some new interests I confided in an ex-colleague about the idea of setting up my own business. She had recently set off on a new venture and had decided to throw herself into becoming a writer – she is now a published author! She encouraged me that it is never too late to try something new and that the experiences we have are never wasted. Over the years I have come to appreciate that having a variety of experiences is really valuable, and helps us to become more valuable members of staff. I have also realised that people have all sorts of experiences that they bring with them to work.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be?

Try not to be too worried about pleasing other people, or worry about which job you might end up doing. If you are inspired and motivated by a particular career path that is wonderful, but it takes lots of us time to find out what we are good at. I was always encouraged as a child to aim high – it’s great to be ambitious but it is worth realising that there are so many opportunities out there. We can’t possibly know what they all are. You haven’t failed just because you make a few mistakes or change your mind. The most important thing is to try and be good at what you do, spend time thinking about what you enjoy, and think about what kind of skills you would like to learn. Be curious, keep an open mind and remember that your experience is never wasted. You might not find your dream job straight away, but if you keep looking you will find your way there eventually.

What is the most important message that you would send to young women thinking about their careers?

Think about building skills and getting work experience – paid or unpaid. Good grades are really useful, but it is also important to get out there, be brave and give things a go.

What’s the best thing about being a woman?

There are so many opportunities available to us – you can really be whatever you want to be.