Ade Williams: Community Pharmacist who Became Face of Healthcare Excellence



Ade Williams: Community Pharmacist who Became Face of Healthcare Excellence
Ade Williams. Image Source: Independent Community Pharmacist


As part of events to mark the 72nd anniversary of the British National Health Service (NHS) during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it was announced that giant portraits of 12 outstanding health workers would be showcased on electronic billboards around the country.Specifically to be targeted were bus stops and iconic pedestrian areas, including the world-famous Piccadilly Lights in Central London. Only one pharmacist was included on that prestigious list of healthcare luminaries, and that was Nigerian-born Dr Adeyemi Adedamola Williams (more commonly known as Ade Williams).

Many passers-by who beheld Williams’ smiling face on the magnificent screens easily recognised him as the superintendent pharmacist at the multi-award winning Bedminster Pharmacy, an independent healthy living pharmacy, in South Bristol, England. He is also known as the director and superintendent pharmacist of the MJ Williams Pharmacy Group.

However, a greater number of people would have recognised him from his frequent appearances and presentations on national, regional and local media – electronic and print – through which he offers enlightning insights on community pharmacy practice, healthy living, and general public health issues. He was, in fact, UK’s “Pharmacist of the Year” (2018), an award which came one year after he had been honoured as “Community Pharmacist and Manager of the Year” (2017), by the renowned Chemist & Druggist magazine.

Williams is an independent prescriber, with a general practice role. He and his team are widely acknowledged as advocates that champion and pioneer cost-effective, pharmacy-based community health solutions through their innovative campaigns, interventions and collaborative partnerships. According to him, “Community pharmacy must re-imagine its purpose, reinventing why and how it does what it does by disrupting the current model through innovation and integration, and by exploring new and sustainable health-based funding.”

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Inclusive Pharmacy Practice Advocate

Described by The Bristol Magazine as a “community champion and brilliant ambassador for Bristol”, Williams is a firm believer in proactively understanding, developing and adopting strategies for tackling barriers that prevent individuals from accessing the best care. He once declared to his professional colleagues, “Community Pharmacy is already a lifeline to many of the worst served population groups. Every effort we make to improve access and care significantly improves health outcomes while also resetting their lived experience of feeling invisible or undervalued. We are their advocates, champions, and stewards of their journey to more equitable treatment. They need us to remain committed and alert, or they stay in the shadows, underserved and unrepresented.”

Williams’ enthusiastic input to finding pragmatic, solutions to complex health and policy matters, alongside a passion for engaging and empowering patients, makes him part of many national and cross-professional working groups and campaigns. He is also a qualified Canadian pharmacist and the pharmacy ambassador for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Charity.

Background and Foray into Pharmacy

Williams was born in Nigeria in 1981 and mostly spent his early years with his mother and three siblings, having lost his father at the age of eight. He had his primary and secondary education in Nigeria before moving, in 1997, to live with his aunt in Hove, a seaside resort, in East Sussex, England.

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Having earlier been convinced by his teacher to ditch his plan of becoming a watercolour artist and instead seek better use of his empathetic nature and good science grades, he desperately needed direction on the career to pursue. The answer came through his curious visits to a nearby pharmacy to observe the pharmacist and chat with him about his work. According to him, seeing how the pharmacist cared for his community settled it for him that he must follow the same career path.

Williams subsequently enrolled to study Pharmacy at the University of Portsmouth, graduating in 2002. Thereafter, he did his pre-registration training with HA McParland Pharmacies, an independent pharmacy group. Following his registration in 2003, he started working for Tesco Pharmacy, Didcot, Oxfordshire. He also commenced the Canadian Pharmacist Qualification process, with the aim of relocating, having been drawn to the dynamics of the Canadian health system.

Williams further spent some years as a locum pharmacist, where he had the opportunity to work with various community pharmacy contractors, multiples and independent pharmacies. The locum role allowed him ease of travel to Canada to complete his Canadian qualification exams in 2005. However, according to him, the arduous qualification process had dampened his enthusiasm for relocating. Also, the fact that new models of delivering pharmaceutical care and better ways of using the expertise of community pharmacists were being developed in the UK ultimately made him to discard his relocation plans. He qualified as an independent prescriber in 2018.

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Awards and recognitions

Aside from the “Community Pharmacist and Manager of the Year” and the “Pharmacist of the Year” awards, which he received in 2017 and 2018, respectively, Williams has received other notable recognitions for his exceptional commitment to pharmacy practice and public health. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society for Public Health. In 2019, he received the NHS Parliamentary Award for Excellence in Primary Care.

Williams is the inaugural winner of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Patient Champion Award. In 2016, his pharmacy, the Bedminster Pharmacy, won the award for best Healthy Living Pharmacy at the inaugural Pharmacist’s Awards. That same year, the company won the Pharmacy Team of the Year award by Chemist & and Druggist. In 2001, he was presented the Member of the British Empire (MBE) award, for services to the NHS and to the community in South Bristol, particularly during COVID-19. Most recently, in July 2023, the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


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