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IWD: Hope Winch - The inspiring story of Pharmacy’s first lady

Home / More / News / IWD: Hope Winch - The inspiring story of Pharmacy’s first lady

Published on 08 March 2021

Hope Winch
Hope Winch

Hope Constance Monica Winch was born in 1894 in the quiet village of Brompton, just outside of Northallerton in North Yorkshire.

She went to school in Cumbria, then in 1912 she spent a year training as a pharmacy dispenser at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

The northern lass then ventured south to attend a Pharmacy School in London and in June 1917 registered as a chemist and druggist.

Hope passed the major exam to register as a pharmaceutical chemist in 1918 and went on to qualify as an Associate of the Institute of Chemistry.

After a year working as a lecturer in Newcastle, Hope transferred to Sunderland in 1921 with an ambitious plan to set up the finest Pharmacy department in the North East.

Three students and 25 ex-servicemen were the first to attend the new department, which was located in the chemistry school of Sunderland Technical College and consisted of one double-sided bench.

Hope also became well established in the local pharmacy community, serving as Secretary of the Local Branch of the Pharmaceutical Society for more 20 years, and then as Chair.

Tragically in 1944, Hope, an Alpine trained climber, died after falling 150 feet while instructing a 14-year-old boy on Scafell in the Lake District.

An inquest concluded that she may have suffered a temporary black-out brought on by scarlet fever and a verdict of “accidental death” was recorded.

Hope’s funeral was held at Newcastle Crematorium and her ashes were scattered on Great Gable mountain in the Lake District.

Hope’s Legacy

Twenty days after her death, a scholarship fund known as the Hope CM Winch Memorial Fund was set up at Sunderland in her memory, to help undergraduate pharmacy students experiencing serious financial difficulties.

Over the last 100 years, thanks to Hope’s vision and tenacity, many thousands of young people have studied at the Sunderland School of Pharmacy and have gone on to offer their expertise, support and assistance to people in all corners of the world.

Dr Paul Carter is a Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University and Chair of the Hope Winch Society.

The Society began in 1984 with the aim of keeping ex-pharmacy students in touch with each other, with a reunion dinner being the highlight of each year.

Paul said: “Hope Winch had the ambition and drive to set up the finest Pharmacy department in the North East and we owe much of the success of the current Pharmacy provision to her.

“We have grown and continued to develop to be a leading Pharmacy School in the UK with a strong national and international reputation and I feel immensely proud to be a pharmacist who qualified from Sunderland.

“Miss Winch left a legacy of creativity and passion for teaching that has been passed through generations and has inspired many to achieve their own ambitions.”


As the world continues to battle Covid-19, it is researchers, pharmacists, chemists, doctors and nurses who are offering us a way forward and a brighter future through vaccines, treatments and specialist care.

Kathryn Davison, Team Leader in Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Therapeutics at the University, said: “Almost 100 years after Hope Winch founded the Pharmacy department, we continue to demonstrate that we are an extremely successful Pharmacy School with our graduates having outstanding success in their professional registration exams and as practicing pharmacists as part of the NHS frontline.

“I think she would have been delighted to see we still have many inspiring women working within our Pharmacy School and that we continue to produce graduates that are ambassadors of the University of Sunderland in their various sectors of pharmacy practice.”

University Governor Umesh Patel is a well-known local community pharmacist who has worked in Sunderland for more than 30 years.

Umesh, who graduated from the University in 1978, said: “Hope Winch made the Sunderland School of Pharmacy a world-class institution, from the Galen Building into the huge university we see today, spreading its wings across the globe.

“Her legacy will last forever.”

Centenary Celebrations

This year, staff and students past and present are celebrating 100 years of Pharmacy education at the University of Sunderland.

The centenary will be marked with a series of events. Those still to come are:

Community Pharmacy in the Real World – March 11th

People, Places and Things: A Compendium of Talks on Pharmacy History – March 26th

• Sunderland Global Pharmacists Network – June 2021

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

Pharmacy Exhibition at Beamish live tour – October 1st

Pharmacy Centenary Celebrations Weekend – October 15th / 16th

• Hospital Pharmacy in the Real World – November 4th

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

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