Welcoming Tony Sumner to the Narrative Practices Lab

October 31, 2023
A man with glasses, grey hair and a beard in a blue shirt

We are delighted to welcome Tony Sumner, who joins us as a Curatorial Fellow in Narrative Practices on the Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities.

Tony’s path has never been a straight and narrow one from A to B. After a physics degree at Imperial College London, he worked in the aerospace industry and studied astronomy and astronautics at the University of Hertfordshire. His career then moved into software development and quality assurance in the Cambridge computer industry in the 1980s and 1990s before he co-founded Pilgrim Projects, an education consultancy specialising in open, distance and e-learning and healthcare quality improvement.

In 2003, Tony co-founded Patient Voices, a programme which aimed to build on the rapidly growing capability of software and hardware systems that could, with sensitive, appropriate and agile facilitation, make it possible for patients and staff to become auto-ethnographers exploring their own personal narratives of the consumption and delivery of healthcare and distilling them into first-person reflective digital stories.

Patient Voices now houses over a thousand freely available digital stories and the programme has won a number of awards, including the 2010 British Medical Journal award for Excellence in Healthcare Education.

Tony developed transverse myelitis in late 2019, and he now hosts a monthly group online where members of the Transverse Myelitis Society can share and discuss their experiences and narratives of this rare neurological disease.

Tony says:

“Statistics tell us how the system experiences the individual, but stories tell us how the individual experiences the system. How do we find the stories we need to use to improve wellbeing? I have journeyed from a Physics degree to 20 years of facilitating digital storytelling in healthcare, via aerospace and computer industries and developing learning materials. My next stage will be to explore how we can best identify, audit and curate the narrative resources that are available to us.”

We warmly welcome Tony to Durham University and look forward to working with in the Narrative Practices Lab as part of the Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities.

Explore digital stories of health and illness on Patient Voices

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