The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt. Rev Christopher Hill has made a special visit to St. Peter’s Hospital. Last Thursday, 23rd June, at the invitation of St. Peter’s voluntary services manager, Freda Larham the Bishop came to tour the A&E and see the work that is undertaken by the 70 strong team of chaplaincy volunteers. 2005 is the year of the volunteer and so to visit the chaplaincy volunteers was extra special but also the visit was planned to coincide with the “Spotlight on Ashford and St. Peter’s Month” which has been highlighting many areas of the Trust that often go unseen throughout June.

The Bishop toured the Accident and Emergency Department speaking with both staff and patients, and seeing the work of the chaplaincy volunteers at first hand. He was accompanied by Freda and also by Liz Longley, site coordinator, who in her previous role as nurse manager in A&E had been instrumental in initiating the introduction of the chaplaincy volunteer service within the department.

This was the Bishop’s first official visit to St. Peter’s since his consecration as Bishop in November 2004. He was delighted with the work going on in A&E. Following his visit to the department, he was welcomed to the St. Peter’s Chapel by the Rev. Judith Allford, Head of Pastoral Care and by other members of the St. Peter’s team of Chaplains and chaplaincy volunteers. Also present was Rev. Jean Robinson, Chaplain to the mental health unit on the St. Peter’s site. The Bishop was able to witness the progress of the refurbishment work on the Chapel Garden (following the removal of the Café Marquee which had been there during the redesigning of the front entrance to the hospital).

Bishop Christopher said: "I was hugely impressed at meeting the chaplaincy volunteers at St Peter's Hospital. In particular, I was struck by the trust and strong relationship between the hospital staff and the volunteers, for example, on the A&E Unit. Such a relationship does not come quickly and is the fruit of patience, trust, dedication and professionalism all round. Well done."

Bishop Christopher met Nancy Jackson, Vice Chair of the League of Friends, and congratulated the Friends on all their hard work in support of the chaplaincy. The Bishop also had time to talk to Richard Chandler and Lisa Malhas from Project 18, who, with their team, have worked tirelessly in the Chapel Garden, to make it once again a beautiful and tranquil space in the midst of a busy acute hospital. Project 18 is involved in many projects around the hospital and does everything from gardening and printing to furniture upholstery.

The Bishop plans to return to St. Peter’s later in the year on a more formal visit to the Trust Chaplains and to other departments within the hospital.


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