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88-year-old man who preserved 50 years of pharmaceutical history honoured by Queen

PUBLISHED: 22:35 28 December 2018 | UPDATED: 08:32 29 December 2018

John Newstead is to be awarded a British Empire Medal for services to pharmaceutical heritage. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

John Newstead is to be awarded a British Empire Medal for services to pharmaceutical heritage. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A retired Taverham man who has collected and preserved more than 2,500 pharmaceutical items spanning 50 years will be awarded a British Empire Medal.

John Newstead with his wife Janie Newstead. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodJohn Newstead with his wife Janie Newstead. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

John Newstead, 88, of Ringland Road, has been named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2019 for services to pharmaceutical heritage.

In the 1960s, Mr Newstead recognised the important role that pharmacists played within the local community and was determined to preserve traditions, practices and social history.

He travelled around the region collecting what he could from pharmacies that were modernising or closing down.

He collected more than 2,500 items and built a small museum in his garden in order to share his collection with other pharmacy enthusiasts, family and friends.

John Newstead helped create the old time chemist at the Yarmouth Time and Tide Museum. Picture: Nick ButcherJohn Newstead helped create the old time chemist at the Yarmouth Time and Tide Museum. Picture: Nick Butcher

The former pharmacist had owned a shop Wroxham Road in Sprowston and later in Blenheim Road, where he would make medicine for doctors during the 70s and 80s before he retired in 1990.

He offered his collection to Norfolk Museums Service in 1984 and the next year his recreated chemist shop was installed within the Bridewell Museum.

His wife of 40 years, Janie Newstead, 77, said: “There is a complete chemist where people can go into the bridewell and have a look at it, it’s spectacular.”

Mr Newstead’s collection has undoubtedly been a main part of the museum and was a major factor in the securement of just under £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2008.

John Newstead helped create the old time chemist at the Yarmouth Time and Tide Museum. Picture: Nick ButcherJohn Newstead helped create the old time chemist at the Yarmouth Time and Tide Museum. Picture: Nick Butcher

He has assisted with the development of a 1913 pharmacy display at the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth, which includes bottles and cabinets filled with ingredients like dragon’s blood and elephant’s toenails.

In 1978, Mr Newstead was designated as a Fellow of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society for his contribution to the history of pharmacy.

Mrs Newstead, who looks after her husband after he suffered a stroke two years ago, said they were delighted when they received news Mr Newstead was to be awarded a BEM.

“We just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “After all this time since he opened the pharmacy, he is absolutely thrilled, he just can’t wait to tell everyone. 
“We won’t be going to the ceremony which is unfortunate, but we will celebrate with a bottle of champagne.”

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