EVELYN.THORN@cluthaleader.co.nz

A long-standing local pharmacist heading for retirement says her landing in South Otago was propelled by romance in the air.

Clutha Health First and Bates Pharmacy co-owner, local pharmacist Margo Roxburgh, has served Balclutha people for 42 years.

Scottish-born Mrs Roxburgh said she had only intended to stay in the South for a couple of years when she arrived in 1981 to pursue her career in pharmacy.

However, a trip to the South Otago Aero Club made the landing more permanent.

‘‘I actually visited a friend in Whanganui for a holiday prior to looking for a job here and decided I quite liked it [in New Zealand],’’ she said.

‘‘I thought I’d stay a couple of years when I moved over — but I met my husband Lloyd after joining the South Otago Aero Club during that time, so here I am, many years later!’’

The couple were married in 1985.

Mrs Roxburgh said she found the transition to New Zealand life ‘‘easy’’, aided by a strong connection with the ‘‘very welcoming’’ people of Balclutha.

She started her work at the old Balclutha Hospital and was provided a house nearby.

After being recruited in another area for six months she was given a job at Grays Pharmacy in Balclutha, where she worked for two years before returning to hospital dispensing for about 19 years. She then moved on to helping both Clutha Health First and working at Bates Pharmacy in Balclutha.

She said she remembered transporting controlled drugs to the hospital in a police car, and joked about struggling to work the safes on the day the new Clutha Health First hospital opened in 1998.

Mrs Roxburgh took maternity leave to have her two children, and also spent many hours flying at the aero club, where she was national champion in 1992 and represented New Zealand in Australia in 1993.

She had part-owned Bates Pharmacy for about 16 years alongside Ngaire Taylor and Mark Lahood, and said she had enjoyed building the business up to flourish over time.

She was pleased recently to be able to head to Hastings to assist in the pharmacy side of things, aiding people who had been affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Mrs Roxburgh said she was now looking forward to her retirement, however.

‘‘I’ve had a good crack at it, and it’s a good time for me to have some time to myself now.’’

She would spend time relaxing, gardening, and catching up with friends, and enjoying more caravan trips with husband Lloyd.