How I ended up loving island life in Orkney – Johan’s story

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I have never regretted moving here and the nature of Island life means that you can potentially be a part of a customer’s life for a long time."


Hi there, my name is Johan Wallace and I’m the Pharmacist Store Manager of the Kirkwall Albert St store. I thought I’d share my story and how I came to land up loving island life.



I have always worked for Boots and after taking a career break in 2000 to travel round Australia I returned to Edinburgh and was asked if I would like to go to Kirkwall to manage the store for three months. My first thought was – ‘where!?’

Orkney, also known as the Orkney Isles is an archipelago of 70 islands lying a few miles off the north coast of Scotland. I had heard of Orkney Fudge and Ortak jewellery but it wasn’t until after I arrived that I would ever have imaged a three month temporary stay would see me still living here after 16 years.



Orkney is special. It’s spellbinding, invigorating, relaxing and welcoming at the same time; it’s been voted one of the best places to live in Scotland for the third time! There are amazing beaches, wildlife, Neolithic history, jewellery, food, drink and so much more. Anyway I fell in love with the place. I immediately found my work extremely rewarding as I was able to build up relationships with my customers, local healthcare professionals and the Pharmacy Team. Orcadians can be very welcoming to incomers whilst still looking for that familiar face.

Kirkwall is the main town on mainland Orkney and has a population of about 9000 people; there are currently two GP surgeries and two community pharmacies Boots being one. Orkney has four community pharmacies in total.



The role of the Pharmacist is varied; we dispense about 2300 items per week. A large PC business, a Care home and Medisure services all help to make for a busy dispensary. In addition to a substantial walk in business we also dispense prescriptions for patients who live on the smaller outer islands of Orkney.

Island life can have its challenges, mainly the weather, however the locals understand the impact of the ferries not sailing and are usually happy to call back for their medication. We currently get daily deliveries as there are regular ferry crossings and flights to the mainland. Gone are the days of the once a week delivery.



Orkney is a hive of activity in the summer with many cruise ships calling in to the harbour for the day, busloads of tourists visiting the famous sites like Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar. The shop can be especially busy on liner days with requests for emergency prescriptions or anti sea sick medication!

Currently there is 24 staff in the store including myself and Assistant Manager Dawn Smith. We have an experienced Pharmacy Team who is all committed to the store and its customers. Patient Safety is paramount and we work as a team to maintain this within the store.



I have never regretted moving here and the nature of Island life means that you can potentially be a part of a customer’s life for a long time. Supporting ladies through pregnancy, then colic in their new-born, seeing the child as it grows up to become the next generation of customer. Orkney also has a high percentage of elderly patients who rely on the advice of the pharmacist.

I hope you have enjoyed my story and it has interested you enough to consider a role as base Pharmacist in Kirkwall, you would be well supported and it would be an excellent opportunity to consolidate your professional skills.


If you’d like to hear more about our available opportunities in Scotland, connect with our Regional Recruiter Connie Fazackerley on LinkedIn and visit our pharmacy page


If you’re interested in seeing where your career could take you, visit our relocation page, take our quiz and leave your details fora call back from our recruitment team



Johan Wallace Pharmacist Store Manager