Jean Kennedy Irvine

Jean Kennedy Irvine

Jean Kennedy Irvine was the Society's first female President, in 1947.

Jean Kennedy was born in Hawick, Roxburghshire, and served her apprenticeship in the town.  She qualified in 1900, and her first post was as assistant pharmacist to the Glasgow Apothecaries Company.  She subsequently became chief pharmacist.

After her marriage to Peter Irvine, she helped to manage his two Glasgow pharmacies. During World War One, she moved to London to be nearer to her husband, who had joined the army at the outbreak of the war.  In 1916, she was appointed superintendent of the Joint Committee for Pricing Prescriptions, South-Eastern Division, and remained there for more than 30 years both under the National Health Insurance Act, and the National Health Service Act.  She was the first woman president of the staff side of the Whitley Council for the National Insurance administrative, technical and clerical services.  She was also the first woman elected to the presidency of the Insurance Committee Officers Association for England and Wales.

She was elected to the Society's council in 1937, only the third woman to have achieved this.  She became its first woman President in 1947, aged 70.  She was well known for her strength of character, and once described the Council as ‘crazy’ in a public session.  However, she was also well respected for her support and encouragement of younger colleagues.  She retired in 1952.

Mrs Irvine was also President of NAWP, and the Association organised a dinner in her honour when she became the Society's President in 1947.

She died in 1962, aged 85.

Image top: Jean Kennedy Irvine, portrait by Norman Hepple, 1957.  This portrait, commissioned by the Council, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1957