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“Personal stories are the number one way to impact mental wellbeing.”
James Kemsley - Founder of The Informal
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Emma Kemsley storyteller
James Kemsley speaking
The  Informal group session
James Kemsley - The Informl founder
The Informal speaker Emma Kemsley

Our Storytellers

Stories changed our lives, find out how it can change yours.

On the day James and his wife started their IVF treatment, his mum died following a terminal atrophy illness. Meanwhile his dad underwent a cancer surgery in another hospital. It was the worst day of his life…or so he thought. They say things come in threes, but over a period of four years, things got worse and worse for James. Nine failed IVFs, baby loss at 20 weeks peak pandemic, business failure, home burglary and more, James was left broken with no support…

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James experienced more life changing moments and trauma in a few short years, than most people do in a lifetime. Stressed and emotional, James felt there was no one to turn to. Like most men, the idea of professional help was emasculating. He continued to spiral until a stranger shared his story and encouraged James to seek the help he needed. Today, James passes the favour forward, sharing his story, as the founder of The Informal.

James’ story teaches
Life changes
Coping with grief
Finding a work life balance
Supporting family
Overcoming fertility and baby loss
How to feel like a man
James is available for talks, panels and event hire. Learn more about his inspirational story.

In 2018, Stephen lived in a small rural village, the kind of place with one village pub and friendly neighbours. He commuted to London daily, although that involved early starts and long days in all life was pretty good. On a cold Monday morning in November, Stephen headed off for a large caffeine intake at the local Costa…in one moment his life changed forever; he was stabbed 14 times in under two minutes.

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Stephen is a 6’3 larger than life Yorkshire man. Forty-three years old and married, he has two young boys whose energy never seems to drop - exactly like their dad. Since his life changing experience, he now sees the world with fresh eyes and is committed to celebrating and developing people, both professionally and personally.

Stephen’s story specialises in
Coping mechanisms
Taking control of your life
Judgement & peoples preconceived ideas
The power of the mind
Stephen is available for talks, panels and event hire. Learn more about his inspirational story.

As a journalist, Emma has spent her adult life telling the stories of others and reporting on current affairs, but her own life had come to a halt. Years of struggling with crippling stage 4 endometriosis, enduring nine cycles of IVF, baby loss, caring for a parent and everyday stress, she had forgotten how to live. This is the story of what happens when you accept life's challenges, find your inner strength and start over again.

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At six years old, Emma wanted to be a journalist. Why? She wanted to tell stories. Today she does exactly that as co-founder of The Informal. She shares stories of inspiration, courage and triumph to help, inspire and support others in similar circumstances. Forever positive and optimistic, despite juggling a painful long term health condition alongside managing grief and running a business, Emma is an advocate for living life to the full.

Emma’s story features
Learning when to quit
How to juggle IVF and work
How to fail
Acceptance and adaptation
Setting boundaries
Managing expectations
Stop existing and start living
Emma is available for talks, panels and event hire. Learn more about her inspirational story.

A successful banker in The City and happily married with four children, from the outside, it looked like Duncan had it all. However, anxiety, long hours at the desk and socialising with clients, was starting to take its toll. Heavily drinking and smoking, overweight and managing an old back injury with painkillers, Duncan knew if he didn’t quit, he would die. A story of change and courage, he walked away from financial security to save his life.

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Having felt the benefit of starting to exercise and losing weight, Duncan decided to make the full life change and train as a Pilates teacher. This coincided with his mother falling seriously ill with terminal cancer, which worked as a catalyst for him to focus on changing his health and life for the better. He now teaches running courses and has been teetotal for over a decade. Having made this change in his own life, and having taken responsibility for his own health, Duncan can empathise with clients while helping them to take responsibility for their own health and mental wellbeing.

Duncan’s story focuses on
Taking responsibility for your health and wellbeing
Recognising pivotal moments
Changing your life
Coping with social anxiety
Finding your identity as a man
Learning when to quit
Duncan is available for talks, panels and event hire. Learn more about his inspirational story.

Five days after her 34th birthday, Candy received the devastating news that she had a rare type of ovarian cancer. This came only 12 months after she was diagnosed with a chronic illness that threatens to make her blind. These two life-changing diseases meant in the space of 18 months Candy stepped foot in hospital over 80 times. As she navigated her way through tests, scans, major surgeries and fertility treatment, she faced unbelievable challenges. The terrifying process was magnified by living in a new place in a foreign country, with no support network.

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Candy has always been free-spirited and independent, but since facing the unimaginable, she has now found her voice too. She has learned the importance of advocating for herself and wants to help others do the same. She continues to follow her passions and moves forward with momentum. By sharing her story she hopes she can help others understand what it’s like to live and work with cancer or a chronic disease.

Candy’s story discusses
Living and working with cancer and chronic disease
Advocating for yourself
Finding healthy coping mechanisms
Navigating life changing experiences
Owning your truth
Self compassion
Finding empathy for others
Candy is available for talks, panels and event hire. Learn more about her inspirational story.

Jack was lost. He was overwhelmed with work. Stressed in all aspects of his life. Often late home from work to find his sons already asleep. He worked weekends to ensure his family were financially secure. Jack’s mental and physical health was spiralling but he pushed on, despite living cystic fibrosis (CF). He refused to acknowledge the problems. When The Informal came to Jack’s workplace, everything changed...

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Jack attended a group session and for the first time in years, he realised he wasn’t alone. He bravely shared his story and health problems and felt an instant relief. The group session led to Jack getting the help he needed. Inspired by the community at The Informal, Jack eagerly wanted to share his story to support others and came on board as a passionate storyteller.

Jack’s story features
Living with chronic illness from birth
Finding a work life balance
Overcoming stress
Coping with family pressures and guilt
How to take a risk
Working with physical health problems
Jack is available for talks, panels and event hire. Learn more about his inspirational story.

At age 14, Hayley was diagnosed as postmenopausal due to Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). For 25 years she battled with debilitating menopause symptoms. She wasn’t given any support or guidance, and spent years struggling mentally, emotionally, and physically. With no suitable advice available, in 2020, Hayley bravely shared her story with the world via Instagram and was overwhelmed with support, encouragement and messages from women who were suffering too.

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Hayley starred in Davina McCall’s ‘Sex, Myths and the Menopause’ Channel 4 documentary and continues to share her story in the national press to help women feel less alone. Hayley is considered an expert in menopause. She has a passion for busting menopause taboos and encouraging others to openly share their experience. Having grieved her fertility in her 20s, Hayley is now on the path to adoption. Today she shares her personal experience and insights with medical professionals and corporate management to improve menopause treatment in the workplace.

Hayley’s story discusses
Perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause
Relationships, sex and the menopause
Managing symptoms
Finding your path and support
Adapting to life changes
Hayley is available for talks, panels and event hire. Learn more about her inspirational story.

Following a childhood trauma, throughout her teenage years Hannah knew something wasn’t quite right. Crippling bouts of fatigue to the point where she couldn’t finish sentences, chronic pain and volatile mood swings. After years of feeling like she was being ignored by medical professionals, at 23 she finally got a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic encephalomyelitis. She was immediately signed off work for a year (which turned into two) and told she would likely never work full time, especially in events, the industry she loved.

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The diagnosis and reality of the illness subsequently led to severe depression and anxiety. Through tenacity and perhaps a touch of stubbornness - Hannah did what she does best and refused to take no for an answer. She worked out a way that she could continue to work in her beloved industry and prove the doctors wrong. Through setting firm boundaries, understanding her limits and how to manage her illness, 13 years later she not only continues to work in the event industry but excels in it. In addition to this she has forged a second career path as a food & travel writer and private chef following her competing in the very high-pressured show ‘MasterChef’. This is a story of proving you can do anything you set your mind to with a little ‘out the box’ thinking. Hannah is here to talk honestly and openly about mental health, chronic illness and making life work on your terms.

Hannah’s story discusses
Coping with chronic illness
Life changes
Work life balance
Taking control
Understanding your limits
Boundary setting
Living with depression
Hannah is available for talks, panels and event hire. Learn more about her inspirational story.

As the car rolled, Gary knew it wouldn’t be the last time he’d put his life on the line. Calling in sick to work after a night of binge drinking become a regular occurrence. Relationships with family and partners started to disintegrate, but still he shrugged off his drinking as something everyone did.  This is an eye-opening story of what happens when you have ‘just one more.’

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Gary’s childhood was colourful; growing up around alcoholism and violence was common. Struggling with crippling anxiety, ADHD and low self-esteem, fitting in was difficult. In adult life, Gary found honesty and authenticity challenging. Choices led him on a downward spiral. He had to hit rock bottom to find the strength to make the change. Gary shares his story of how to rise from the ground up, demonstrating unbelievable strength and resilience.

Gary’s story discusses
Overcoming alcohol and drug addition
Finding the real you
Journey to sobriety
Building personal resilience
Learning discipline
Gary is available for talks, panels and event hire. Learn more about his inspirational story.

Learn from a real life hero. Get stuck into a great story with our inspirational storytellers. Get in touch for more information.