When Isabel Keenan began working in McKenzie’s Pharmacy in the Ardoyne in July 1971, she could scarcely have imagined that she’d still be crossing the pharmacy doorstep each morning 50 years later! 

Isabel is also renowned for coming to work in the morning with buns for the staff, so it was fitting that owners, Adrian and Peter Rice, should mark this magical occasion with a bouquet not only of fragrant flowers, but of cute cupcakes! 

‘Isabel has been working in McKenzie’s Pharmacy since 1971,’ said Adrian Rice. ‘I took over the business in 1985 and there is no doubt that Isabel has – throughout my time here – been an exceptional employee.  On top of the fact that she has never missed a day – a major achievement in anyone’s employment history – she’s also never been late. She’s famous for buying the buns every morning and makes the tea to go along with them! Throughout the 36 years that I’ve been in the pharmacy, Isabel has been a superb employee and sets the standards for everyone to follow. After all this time, however, I’d like to think that Isabel is a friend rather than an employee.’ 

‘Today’s really a celebration of Isabel’s outstanding achievement over the last 50 years,’ added Adrian’s son, Peter Rice. ‘She has always shown – and continues to show real dedication and commitment to not just the pharmacy itself, but the community around here. McKenzie’s Pharmacy has a reputation for keeping staff for long periods of time. In fact, we currently have a number of staff who have more than 35 years – nearly 40 years in fact – of service, but we really felt that 50 years’ service really is a milestone and so we had to mark it in a really big way. It’s unfortunate that we can’t do more to mark the occasion because of the pandemic, but I think today we have shown Isabel how much she is a massively valued member of the team and how we really do view her as ‘one of the family’ here.’ 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Isabel was more than a little taken aback by the surprise welcome this morning! 

‘I really wasn’t expecting this,’ she said. ‘It’s lovely of everyone to have organised this for me – I’m a bit overwhelmed to be honest. I’ve loved every minute that I’ve worked here for the last 50 years. There have been some tough times – particularly during The Troubles – but the local community has always been welcoming and friendly. I know most of the people around here and count many of them as friends – not to mention the staff that I work with. The last 50 years have flown by and coming to work each morning has been a pleasure but, as they say, when you love what you do, it’s not really like work!’ 

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