John Bertrand Leslie Ainsworth 1919 – 2007

ainsworthJohn Bertrand Leslie Ainsworth 1919 – 2007 FRPharmS, FFHom passed away on 31.8.07 aged 88.

Ainsworth opened Ainsworth’s Pharmacy in 1978 and it still bears all three Royal Warrants, Queen Mother, Prince of Wales and the Queen as Royal Chemists.

Mr Ainsworth registered in 1949 and retired from the Register in 2003. Mr Ainsworth was president of the International Homoeopathy Pharmacists Committee from 1976 to 1978.

Tribute by Stephen Kayne The Pharmaceutical Journal Vol 279 No 7471 p367-368 29 September 2007 The homoeopathic community has lost a great supporter in the passing of John Ainsworth. He made an outstanding contribution to homoeopathic pharmacy for more than 30 years.

John began reading for a degree in chemistry at King’s College London and Bristol, but with the outbreak of the 1939-45 war his studies were interrupted and he joined the Devon Regiment in Exeter. Commissioned in 1940 he moved to the Staffordshire Regiment and subsequently saw action in North Africa and Italy with the Eighth Army. He returned to the UK in January 1944 from where he was posted to north west Europe shortly after D-Day. John sustained a serious leg wound that was to trouble him for the rest of his life, and was finally invalided out the army during the following year.

John’s wife Peggy, whom he married in 1942, had a family connection with Dudley Wooton Everitt, a director of Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy of Duke Street, London, and he secured employment there. He took a two-year pharmacy course with the aid of a government grant for interrupted studies and joined the Register on 22 July 1949, after completing a preregistration year at Nelson’s. John stayed with the company for many years eventually becoming a director.

Following the tragic death of his two fellow directors, Mr and Mrs Dudley Wooton Everitt, in an aeroplane crash in 1972, and the subsequent sale of Nelson’s to the Truth Research Foundation, John opened his own homoeopathic pharmacy on 6 June 1978 in New Cavendish Street, London, with a staff of six. The grant of royal warrants to HM The Queen and HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother soon followed.

From 1978 until John’s retirement in April 1989 (when the staff had grown to 56), Ainsworth’s Homeopathic Pharmacy prospered and enjoyed considerable professional and public support. The pharmacy served three Royal physicians Marjorie Blackie, Charles Elliott and Ronald Davey and a host of other influential clients.

John supported the work of the British Homeopathic Association enthusiastically throughout his professional life, joining its council in 1955 and serving as treasurer for many years, before being elected life president in 1992. He was also a council member of the Homeopathic Trust. John was instrumental in promoting homoeopathy at a time when consumers were beginning to ask questions about the safety of orthodox medicines.

He organised courses for pharmacists through the BHA and encouraged the over-the-counter supply of homoeopathic medicines. John and Peggy contributed to BHA roadshows around the country; I recall that the events were accompanied by much fun and laughter (for the presenters) but were also effective in spreading the idea of responsible and appropriate use of homoeopathy.

In Europe John was president of the International Homoeopathic Pharmacists Committee (CIPH) for three consecutive years and UK member of the CIPH Scientific Commission, where he contributed to early work on the European Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia.

His important contribution to homoeopathic pharmacy was acknowledged through the award of fellowships by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Faculty of Homeopathy (where he was the first pharmacist to be so honoured) in the 1990s.

I knew John Ainsworth for more than 40 years. I greatly appreciated his willingness to share his extensive knowledge and his great support during my formative years as a newly qualified pharmacist. His dry wit was legendary. John is survived by his three children Vivienne, Hilary and Philip, to whom his colleagues express their deepest sympathy.

One thought on “John Bertrand Leslie Ainsworth 1919 – 2007”

  1. Hi Sue
    John campaigned diligently with the early manufacturers in Europe through CIPH (notably with the Boiron brothers and German manufacturers such as HEEL, Staufen, DHU and others) to have a unified EU directive for homoeopathic products. Ainsworths had struggled for many years with a prohibition on marketing homoeopathic products in the UK as OTC medicines because no framework in medicines regulation allowed for licensing. John got as far as obtaining a Specials license for the supply of unlicensed hom meds but this still prevented OTC marketing and Ainsworths remedies had to be sold from behind the counter. The irony of this was that John had been single-handedly responsible for obtaining all the PLRs (Product Licenses of Right under the 1968 Medicines Act) for Nelsons before he was unceremoniously booted out by the owners. Because a moratorium existed on the acquisition of PLRs after the 1971implementation of the Act, by 1978 the deadline for grandfathering existing hom products as PLRs had long passed and Jihn found himself in the invidious position of competing with an ungrateful ex-employer for whom he had managed to establish a nationwide market for homoeopathic products. The emnity between him and his erstwhile employers, the Wilson family memebers, never ceased and were considereably aggravated by Margerie Blackie’s actions on John’s behalf. Blackie trusted John’s integrity and experience as a homoeopathic pharmacist, he had after all marched out with all the knowledgeable staff from Nelsons. She patronized the new eponymous pharmacy and brought Ainsworth prescriptions for HM The Queen and HM The Queen Mother which greatly amused John but aggravated the Wilson family, who through the auspices of the new General Manager, Dr Trevor Cook, insisted that she patronize them instead, particularly as they had the Royal Warrants of Appointment. Such a communique to Margarie Blackie was like a red rag to a Bull and she vouchsafed to have the Royal Warrants transferred to Ainsworths within an unprecedented period of two years trading. John was greatly loved by his staff and bemused at the success Ainsworths achieved in his time running it. He found himself in a position of getting older and wanting a quieter life than commuting daily to central London from his home in the quiet suburbs of Caterham in Surrey. I joined his staff in 1983 as a pharmacy manager and was grateful of the opportunity to take over the reigns of this popular and charismatic man in 1989, the same year Ainsworths acquired its third Royal Warrant for HRH The Prince of Wales. John was at heart an able politician and capable of getting round sticky problems. I sometimes considered conversations with him in which I wanted to extract a definitive answer were akin to juggling with water! However, the upside of this political mind were often useful when it came to preserving the integrity of our potency bank against sporadic threats posed occasionally by the Department of Health when they considered a substance had to be removed from sale. On one such occasion I recall Dr Andrew Lockie going on a BBC Radio 4 show and discussing Whooping cough. Andie was very amusing but dangerously outspoken as all his friends would tell you. He blurted out some advice over the air that all mothers should be giving their offspring Pertussin 30c instead of the vaccine to protect them from whooping cough. There is a time and place for everything and the backlash from regular GPs was somewhat hostile to say the very least. We duly recieved a blue slip of paper form the Department of Health which declared that homoeopathic Pertussin shall no longer be sold for the purpose of preventing whooping cough. John looked up to his audience of trusted staff and, in his inimitable style announced ‘well it doesn’t say anything here about selling it fro treatment does it?’ and with a wink we went away content that the world was back on its axis.

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