Heather McLellan will walk across the stage in Winnipeg at the RBC Convention Centre on Saturday to accept an award years in the making.

Born and raised in Portage la Prairie, McLellan has been a Pharmacy Assistant at Pharmasave since the business opened in the community three years ago. In that time, her grinding work ethic has not gone unnoticed, as she was named the 2024 Friend of Pharmacy Award by Pharmacists Manitoba.

"I was at home already when they gave me a phone call, and I was really surprised. I've been doing my job a really long time, and to be recognized, it caught me off guard, but it's really cool."

McLellan went to school in 2001 to be a Pharmacy Technician and has continued to work at her craft since.

"I've always been about helping others, whether it's my personal life or at work. Thanks to my parents, I learned the value of hard work, which I've passed down to my daughters."

She says that growing up in the community, she knew the incredible qualities Portage had to offer. However, she understood there were areas where the town still had to grow.

"There are plenty of pharmacies in Portage, but what sets us apart is the personal touch. This is my hometown. This is where I've grown up and lived my entire life, and I love connecting with people and hearing about their days, successes, and losses. I became certified in compression fittings in 2012, and in 2022, I got certified for my custom flat knit, and this week, I'm doing my brace training."

McLellan adds that transportation to Winnipeg for services such as brace fittings can be costly. So, bringing those types of practices to Pharmasave Portage was a no-brainer for her.

"We just believe this community has a lot to offer, and we like to give back and make sure that we can stay local."

While the hard work is evident from just a quick chat with McLellan, she says this award would only be given to her with the help of the team around her.

"I definitely wouldn't be able to be in my office doing all the extra things I can do if we didn't have such a great team at the dispensary."

One of the staff members McLellan is speaking of is Caitlin Giercke, the Owner of Pharmasave in Portage, who just so happens to be the person who nominated her.

Giercke notes she wasn't surprised to hear that McLellan had won.

"There's not enough words to say how appreciative I am for her," Giercke continues. "She's my OG Pharma gal, and I wouldn't have the business I have without her. The work that she does in the dispensary is wonderful, but also, the compressions that she's taken on and all these new ventures, she's so deserving. I couldn't do this without her."

As for what's next for McLellan, she is still focused on the tasks ahead.

"We're just amping up the things we can offer in Portage, and I think we're just getting started."