THERE was cause for celebration as a pharmacy finally reopened two years after a major fire.
Staff and customers were beaming with happiness as the doors were opened to the new Rowlands Pharmacy, in Lavender Road, Stakes, Waterlooville.
In September 2011 the pharmacy and the nearby Tesco Express building were destroyed in an arson attack.
Since then, staff have been dispensing medicine from a cramped portable building in the car park of Stake Lodge Surgery.
But yesterday it was back to business as customers looked around the fully-stocked pharmacy, which now offers other health services such as blood pressure checks and stop-smoking advice.
Manager Clare Hoy said: ‘We were all a bit nervous but excited this morning.
‘Customers were really pleased to be in our new shop.
‘All we were able to do before was a dispensing service – the products we stocked were just the basics in a small area. Now we have a full shop with a range of products to meet all sorts of illnesses. This is a fresh start.’
The dedication of the staff saw them win an award at last year’s News Best of Health Awards.
Customer Jacqueline Rockett, 66, of Walton Close, Waterlooville, said: ‘It’s great to be back in here. They have been marvellous.
‘They did a wonderful job in the cabin. They are a lovely lot.’
The Tesco Express and Chinese takeaway – which was badly damaged in the blaze – are due to reopen next month.
Stakes councillor Olwyn Kennedy said it was great to see the community getting back on its feet again.
She said: ‘It’s not before time.
‘It will make life easier especially for young mums and older people. It’s a nice little community and without these facilities, they would have to go into Waterlooville. I’m very, very pleased.’
No-one has ever been arrested in connection with the fire.