Alistair Ian Kingswell LLOYD (1933 - 2023)

Executive Officer, Victorian College of Pharmacy (1981 - 1997)

Alistair Lloyd

Dr Alistair Lloyd, who has died aged 89, was a powerhouse in the world of pharmacy and beyond whose steady hand helped guide the profession into a dazzling academic future.

At the end of his career, he was immensely proud that Monash’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences had risen through the ranks to become best in the world – an accolade he had quietly hoped for, but was modest enough not to voice.

As Executive Officer of the Victorian College of Pharmacy (1981-1997), Dr Lloyd was one of the key custodians of pharmacy education in Australia and at the forefront of a revolution which saw dramatic changes to the profession.

In the early 1990s he played a major role in the University’s merger with the Victorian College of Pharmacy, helping to enable its transition from being a “jewel in the crown” of the Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria to a gleaming academic faculty brimming with cutting edge research and new undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

From 2001 to 2013, Dr Lloyd was appointed the inaugural chair of the Victorian College of Pharmacy Foundation (now the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Foundation) to encourage and promote excellence in education, study, teaching and research. Under his leadership the Foundation became a powerhouse, delivering millions in funds to support scholarships, professorial chairs and infrastructure.

Indeed, parallels were drawn between him and the legendary cricketer, Don Bradman, because his “batting average” was twice everyone else’s, according to the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ former Dean, Professor Bill Charman AO.

But, like the finest athletes, Dr Lloyd conducted his life with more than just skill; he had integrity, courage and modesty. And like Bradman, he was “a captain – a real leader” who could pull people together for his cause. Whilst he always had the best interests of pharmacy at heart, he also extended that to the population’s health.

Quick-thinking, entrepreneurial, ingenious and charming, he combined an exceptional mind with compassion and devotion and was renowned for the speed in which he could both write and think.

Alistair Ian Kingswell Lloyd was born in Geelong. His father was a pharmacist, and, as an only child, he spent many hours helping out in the shop. He received a scholarship to Geelong Grammar where he excelled academically and was “reasonably solid” at cricket and rugby.

His extended family was deeply involved in the military, so after completing senior school, the young Alistair signed up for national service. There followed a 30-year parallel career with the Australian Army Reserve, in which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and received the Efficiency Decoration (ED) and the Reserve Force Decoration (RFD).

Afterwards he entered the Victorian College of Pharmacy graduating in 1955 and winning a gold medal for being the top student. The following year he passed the Fellowship examinations of the Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria with honours.

Dr Lloyd began his career as a community pharmacist, apprenticed to the legendary Nigel Manning at his pharmacy close to Flinders Street Station. It was here he met his future wife, Shirley Harrison, who was working behind the counter whilst waiting to study nursing. The pair would meet under the station’s clocks every morning before going their separate ways. The chemistry, they joked, was there from the start.

In 1957 Dr Lloyd was the recipient of the Kodak Travelling Scholarship which took him to England, Scandinavia, Northern Europe and North America investigating the role of pharmacy in civil defence. It was the height of the Cold War and he was researching how pharmaceuticals would be used in a nuclear emergency. The experience gave him invaluable skills and knowledge that were instrumental for his professional future.

He and Shirley became engaged shortly before he left and whilst he was away, they wrote aerogrammes to each other daily. On his return the following year, they were married within five weeks.

In 1961 Dr Lloyd was elected to the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society where he helped oversee Manning’s appointment as Dean of the College and worked diligently to ensure that radical reforms to professionalise the industry were implemented as smoothly as possible.

In 1982, he left pharmacy practice and was appointed to the joint roles of Secretary (later renamed Branch Director) of the Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria, Registrar of the Pharmacy Board of Victoria, and Executive Officer of the Victorian College of Pharmacy. Running late, he nearly missed the interview for the latter position, when the taxi failed to turn up. He used his charm to convince the driver of a passing brewery truck to drop him off, stepping out of the truck at the College’s headquarters in the nick of time.

During his 16 years at the helm, Dr Lloyd became a custodian of pharmacy education in Victoria, helping bring it into an entirely new era and format. A visionary, he foresaw the overlap of community pharmacy with clinical work and the mushrooming of large practices that catered for thousands. Unflappable and devoid of hubris, he excelled in navigating the triple roles Branch Director, Executive Officer, and Registrar and successfully maintained cooperation and harmonious relations between each entity he represented.

In 1996, Dr Lloyd received the very first Pharmacist of the Year Award from the Pharmacy Board of Victoria. In 2001, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “service to the pharmacy profession and patient care” and for “for improving labelling on medications and standardising prescription conventions”. In 2008, he received a Monash Distinguished Alumni Award and in October 2022, a Doctor of Laws; Honoris Causa.

Dr Lloyd is survived by Shirley, his children Kathy, Nigel, Mardi, Stephen and Alana, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

To honour his commitment to the profession and particularly his work with the Foundation, in 2013 the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences established a major endowment fund in his name: the Alistair Lloyd Scholarship for Excellence and Leadership through which his considerable legacy lives on.

Published 24 March 2023 and in The Insider edition of 28 April 2023.

Image courtesy of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Photographer: Ryan Wheatley