The Duchess of Cornwall came to Uckfield this afternoon to meet staff from local branches of Kamsons Pharmacy.
The aim was to highlight the work of pharmacies whose doors remained open to the general public throughout the pandemic.
Frontline pharmacists and pharmacy staff were presented to the Duchess and she was introduced to the owners of the company and some of the head office and warehouse staff.
The Duchess heard about the pressures of working in pharmacies throughout the pandemic, such as the unprecedented demand for prescription delivery.
She heard that every single branch of Kamsons Pharmacy had remained open throughout the pandemic despite the additional pressures.
Bharat Chotai, Director of Kamsons Pharmacy said: “We were delighted to welcome The Duchess of Cornwall and she took a genuine interest in our staff who have continued to serve their local populations throughout the last year in extremely difficult circumstances.
“We are also very proud of the loyalty of our staff and are delighted that their contribution has been recognised by Her Royal Highness.”
The Duchess of Cornwall was given a tour of a new state-of-the-art warehouse opened by Kamsons in Uckfield and unveiled a plaque to mark its official opening.
Kamsons reported that the Duchess was enthralled by innovative “Weasel” robots transporting medicines across the warehouse.
This is the first pharmaceutical warehouse in the country to implement the technology. Moving from a manual to an automated system has allowed the capacity of the warehouse to increase to delivering a million units of stock to pharmacies each month.
Graeme Nott, warehouse manager, told the Duchess that the warehouse is covered by 925 solar panels which are used to power some of the vehicles that deliver medicines to the pharmacies, and directly to patients, as part of Kamsons Pharmacy’s drive towards becoming carbon neutral.
Kamsons Pharmacy is an independent family-owned chain of pharmacies founded by Bipin and Bharat Chotai and their late brother Piyoosh, who died last year.
The family came to England as refugees from Uganda in the 1970s and it was in 1979, that Bipin opened their first pharmacy in Uckfield High Street.
Now, more than 40 years later, the company has grown to 77 pharmacies and employs nearly 1,000 people.
As they are the sons of Kamarshi, they named their pharmacies Kamsons.
Kamsons Pharmacies are based mainly throughout Sussex but also have pharmacies in Kent, London, Surrey, Hampshire, Luton, West Yorkshire, Manchester, and this month opened a new branch in Dorset.
• The copyright of all photographs here belongs to Kamsons Pharmacy. They were taken by Samantha Pells.