100 years of pharmacy: How Sunderland has helped train the world's pharmacists for a century

Staff and students past and present are marking 100 years of Sunderland’s role in training pharmacists to help keep the nation – and the world – in good health.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 9:30 am
A historic pharmacy photo supplied by the University of Sunderland

The city has been a key centre for training pharmacists for a century, beginning in March 1921, when Hope Constance Monica Winch arrived in Sunderland with the ambition to set up the finest pharmacy department in the North East.

Three students and 25 ex-servicemen were the first to attend, and thanks to Hope’s vision and determination, over the last century many thousands of young people have studied at the Sunderland School of Pharmacy.

Among students in the earliest decades was Joyce Smith, who was 16-years-old when she began her studies in 1944 at what was known as Sunderland Technical College.

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Founder Hope Winch

Now, aged 92, she looks back on her time there with great affection.

Her son Peter said: “She is still very proud of being a pharmacist. She has lots of happy memories about being at Sunderland and she made lots of life-long friends and kept in touch with them throughout her life.

“She said at the time everybody wanted to do teaching, but she didn’t fancy being a teacher. She said she wanted to do something different and pharmacy struck her, so she went to be a pharmacist.”

Today, students from around the world study pharmacy at Sunderland. And a century on from the department’s founding in 1921, the world is in the grips of a pandemic.

Joyce Smith

Jo Xuan Tan, from Malaysia, graduated from the University of Sunderland last year and works as a pre-registration pharmacist at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

The 25-year-old explained the impact of covid on her role, and how her training at Sunderland had helped.

“With the increasing number of coronavirus cases, the trust that I am working at has been operating at nearly full capacity and the Pharmacy department is busier than ever,” she said.

“I have to say that with all the help and guidance I received from the University of Sunderland, I have been well-equipped with the skills and knowledge I needed to start my career.

Dr Adrian Moore

“I would like to congratulate the university for reaching its 100th anniversary. It is really impressive to see how far it has come as it proves the relentless effort it has made in its commitment to deliver outstanding education in the past 100 years.

“I am really proud of the university's achievement and it is definitely a pleasure to be able to share this moment of joy.”

Dr Adrian Moore is Head of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Sunderland.

He added: “As we reflect, we can recognise and celebrate how past and current students, graduates and staff have contributed in their own individual and collective ways to positively impact the healthcare of patients in diverse arenas on a global stage.

Sunderland pharmacy graduate Jo Xuan Tan

“From small but highly ambitious beginnings, a suite of thriving healthcare education and training provision has developed.

“The story of pharmacy and integrated healthcare education and training in Sunderland will continue to evolve with our graduates positively contributing to an ever-developing professional workforce.”

A number of events have been taking place to mark the centenary. Those still to come are:

Community Pharmacy in the Real World – March 11

Talk by Pharmacy student Soh Xi Ken about the evolution of Pharmacy education at Sunderland – March 26

Sunderland Global Pharmacists Network – June 2021

An Evening with Briony Hudson and Emeritus Professor Malcolm Hooper – September 30

Pharmacy Exhibition at Beamish live tour – October 1

Pharmacy Centenary Celebrations Weekend – October 15 / 16

Hospital Pharmacy in the Real Word – November 4

An Evening with Sunderland Pharmaceutical Students' Association (SPSA) Committee Members (Past and Present) – December 2

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