Level 3 Pharmacy Technician Apprentices Ashley Wilson and Harrison Spary, based at St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight, were also surprised with a mini graduation, organised by their pharmacy colleagues.
The pair were even able to graduate wearing a cap and gown, as well as celebrating with cake and balloons.
Ashley said: “I was completely shocked by what the team had arranged for us and that they managed to keep it such a big secret. After working so hard for two years it was really disappointing that our Highbury graduation would not go ahead due to Coronavirus. Our surprise mini graduation is something I will never forget and was a brilliant way to get the whole team together to celebrate something really positive."
Pharmacists have played a key role in supporting the nation during the pandemic and Highbury’s latest 10 graduates will continue to play vital roles across the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Portsmouth NHS Hospitals. Despite campus closures in late March, College staff continued teaching remotely and provided specialist exam conditions for students to complete their qualifications in time to join the fight against Covid-19.
Harrison said: “I would like to thank Angela and the whole pharmacy team, including those who stopped by on their day off, for arranging a day that I too will never forget. It was lovely to have the graduation, which came as a complete shock! I am really proud and happy to continue as a member of a brilliant team.”
Ashley and Harrison recently completed their two-year training programme and will register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) as qualified pharmacy technicians.
As well as receiving training from the College once a week throughout the two years, students also undertook NVQ training at their workplace, carried out hospital pharmacy duties and took a total of 19 exams.
Access to Higher Education and Pharmacy Lecturer Gill Daddow said: “Ashley and Harrison were exemplary students. They embraced their studies and applied themselves to their hospital pharmacy practice. They seemed to take the inconvenience of lockdown in their stride. They will make lovely NHS employees.
“All 10 students did well to keep focussed on their studies whilst working in extremely taxing conditions in the NHS. The College made special arrangements for the apprentices to continue with their exams during the lockdown, and they can now register with the General Pharmaceutical Council and perform their essential roles in dispensing and managing medicines in our local NHS hospitals.”
Isle of Wight NHS Trust Senior Pharmacy Technician and Dispensary Manager Angela Ghent said: "Ashley and Harrison have done so well in achieving Distinctions throughout their whole Level 3 BTEC programme at Highbury. They managed to complete and qualify in July despite major disruptions to the programme since the Coronavirus affected course delivery and their professionalism and commitment to the department and our Trust has been outstanding throughout so our wonderful pharmacy team brought the celebrations to them.”
For more information about Level 3 Pharmacy Technician Apprenticeship Standard, click here.
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Photo credit: Angela Dee Photography