Weston HospiceCare, Weston-Super-Mare
I am a Methodist Minister, ordained in 1989, and have been involved in hospice chaplaincy for sixteen years. My current role is full-time chaplain at Weston Hospicecare which is a small hospice in Somerset. I am frequently involved with training and supervision as well as developing a team of volunteers to be companions to patients and families, encouraging people to look at their networks of support and care.
Outside of work my interests include working an allotment, running and creating woolly things from crochet.
Sue Ryder Hospice, Wheatfields, Leeds
David has been Spiritual Care Co-ordinator at Sue Ryder – Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds since 2012. Before that he was, for a year, an Anglican Chaplain at Airedale General Hospice Keighley whilst also doing a Diploma in Healthcare and Social Chaplaincy at Leeds Met. Prior to working in healthcare he worked for eleven years as an ordained Anglican minister in parishes in Lancashire and Staffordshire. And before that, David scratched a living in Northwest England as a musician teaching the flute & clarinet and freelancing/masquerading as a bassoonist.
Working in a hospice is complex and engaging. I enjoy it very much though there is rarely an easy day. Sometimes when people ask what it is that I do: I reply, “Listening and wondering”. The listening we do is about relationships, taking people seriously and meeting people where they are; and the wondering is about being, and journeying to, where the moment seems to require.
Music continues to be an important part of David’s life as does his vintage (mostly 1950s) bicycle.
A teacher, a barrister, assistant house manager of a world-famous theatre, researcher and proof reader for the House of Lords and book seller and buyer for Waterstones. These may sound like the careers of five members of a high-flying family. However, these are the jobs and just part of the fascinating life Hospiscare’s new Chaplain Nigel Mason led before receiving a very personal call from God and beginning his next chapter. Nigel joined Hospiscare in March 2013 after relocating to Exeter, but began life in London before moving to Guildford where he went to school.
Nigel later headed to an Oxford University affiliated teacher-training college with ambitions to become a teacher. Four years later Nigel qualified with an Oxford degree in history and moved back to his home town of London to teach primary education. Nigel said “I was fortunate in having a rapid career and decided five years and thirteen days into it to take a break from teaching. “I trained to be a barrister and funded my way through that. I had eighteen addresses in three years and a variety of jobs. “I was assistant house manager of the Old Vic Theatre and I was a researcher and proof reader for the House of Lords and House of Commons, and book seller and buyer for Waterstones in Brompton.”
Nigel also worked in the Law Commission whilst training at the Council of English Education and then at Bar School to become a barrister. He said “I always intended to return to teaching but another seven years elapsed doing work in law. I became slightly discontented with moving around in different properties and I wasn’t that contented being a practicing barrister.” Having moved to Brighton and wondering what to do next, it was at this point that Nigel received his calling from God. He said “I don’t come from a religious background at all. I had a very specific calling, a very personal calling, which was enough for me to argue verbally in the air against this unknown, non-grammatical sentence ‘you will be a priest’.” Describing his calling as ‘powerful and a little disturbing’, Nigel fled after attending church for the first time in his life, but after attending with friends for a second time says he was caught.
Following a three-day Church of England conference he was recommended to go forward for training to become a priest. “It was at that point that I said to the bishop and my spiritual director that I was recognising sufficient hesitation; I had a Morris Minor car in those days, I had my own house and I liked my job.” Nigel explained “You can hesitate and pause the recommendation for up to three years and I spent two and a half years travelling back to London, doing the work at the court which I liked. But the pillars that I had built to stop God didn’t work, and I went to a theological college in Oxford to train to be a clergyman in 1995.” Nigel is now fifty-six and has faced many challenges and reaped many spiritual rewards since being ordained in 1997. Having being given a parish in Brighton in the year 2000, he worked with a ‘fascinating, brilliant, lifestyle clientele’ including 6,500 people belonging to the gay communities. But Nigel also became a victim of crime because of his work uniform. Nigel said “I have been attacked five times because of the collar – one of them by a lady who head-butted me as she came out of a shop. “That’s the importance of the collar; I think because it can attract or repulse. It can be largely irrelevant for many people but after seven years I had achieved what I wanted to achieve in that parish.” In 2007 Nigel became priest in charge of St Matthews in Birmingham, working in a community of Somalian refugees and asylum seekers. He spent the last sixteen years conducting over 150 funerals a year, as well as weddings, baptisms, pastoral visits, care, handling conflict situations, as well as enjoying the social life of a vicar. During this time Nigel became chair of a board of directors at a community centre, which began as a church-based project but later moved to become secular. He also became involved with the governors at a local school and says that this work is a reflection of who he is as a person. Nigel said “I have many friends and associates and work with many other people who have no faith or have an alternative faith. We work together with a great deal of understanding and respect.” Nigel says he is very excited to have taken the post of Chaplain at Hospiscare, being keen to explore the role and become relevant not only to the unit and day centres in Exeter, Tiverton and Seaton, but also to the shops, warehouse and everyone involved with the charity.
Nigel also has a very personal experience of the work that Hospiscare provides, as his mother died at the hospice in 2012. Nigel said “My mother received Hospiscare for eight months in the family home before she died. It was an insight into the work and ethos of Hospiscare during those two years. So the influence of the care that my mother received I suppose was there in the background [when I applied for the job]. Nigel says that while his experience of Hospiscare as the family member of a patient could help him to better relate to people who come to him, this is his main role anyway. He said “I might be up the front of a church or a chapel taking weddings, conducting funerals, and being the baptiser, but my primary role as a priest is being alongside and being where someone else is. “We each have our own lives and if invited I can walk alongside. I have my own experiences, but all I can do is be myself.”
Strathcarron Hospice, Denny
I haven’t always worked in chaplaincy. My working life began in Edinburgh in education – twenty years in the classroom! Thereafter, following a number of years of illness, I began to pursue a definite calling to healthcare chaplaincy, returning to study in 1997 and beginning a chaplaincy career in 2001 in Falkirk on a very part time basis – 6 hours a week. Currently, I continue to work for NHS Forth Valley (covering the Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire area) as Head of Spiritual Care, a post I have held since 2006. The chaplaincy team, including whole and part time chaplains, honorary chaplains representing faith communities, along with volunteer chaplains, currently numbers around 35. My current job, apart from ongoing management and service development, involves working in acute and community hospitals, providing a listening service in a local GP surgery and being part of the staff at Strathcarron Hospice.
As my special interest has always been in palliative care, I find the time spent at the hospice particularly energising, not only in being with patients, carers and staff but also in providing education sessions and being involved in research projects. Being a chaplain in Scotland at this moment in time is exciting as we work with a raised profile alongside other disciplines to bring to fruition our government’s aspirations for person-centred care. I’m not renowned for taking much time out from work but when I do I love to travel, to walk in the countryside, to listen to classical music – Edinburgh is a good place for concerts – or to go out for a meal in a nice restaurant with quality food and wine. I also sing in the hospice choir and then there are two grandchildren who light up my life. I’ve been married to Bill since 1974 and have one son who lives in Yorkshire with his family.
Joseph Weld Hospice, Dorchester
I began work as a Hospice Chaplain in 2007 at Weldmar Hospicecare Trust, which provides palliative care in North, West and South Dorset. Before that, I had some hospital chaplaincy experience at Poole Hospital when I was training as a student minister and this continued in my first years as a Baptist church minister in Poole. I also did a placement at St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh in 2002.
I live in Poole with my husband Ken, and our younger son lives nearby. Our elder son died in 1994 aged sixteen. I feel that something of this tragedy informs my practice at the hospice. Things that keep me going are: high church worship, playing my flute, cycling and taking breaks in Cornwall where we have a bolt-hole in the form of a caravan.
Hospice in the Weald, Tunbridge Wells
I was ordained deacon in Church of England in 1987 and then priest in 1994. Having completed my first three years curacy in a parish in East End of London I felt my home to be in chaplaincy. This took me into various spheres of ministry – with homeless people, with university students and staff, with people across London affected by HIV/AIDS and then later as palliative care chaplain for Ealing and West Middlesex Hospitals, with Meadow House Hospice, in West London.
During this time I also had a private psychotherapy practice and developed a strong interest in Buddhism, which remains. Four years ago I moved down to Tunbridge Wells to take up my current post as full-time chaplain at Hospice in the Weald which I love.
I am an accredited Mindfulness Meditation teacher and trained with ‘Breathworks’ which has a particular focus for working with chronic pain and illness.
I remain ever thankful for the joy of my health and mobility – yoga and walking keep me grounded.
I am new to the Executive and look forward to learning more about the national issues concerning palliative care chaplaincy and helping to plan our Conference in 2016
Nightingale House and Maelor Hospital, Wrexham
Having spent twenty years in the computer industry I re-trained for ministry in 1998 and after ordination in the Church of England in 2000 started parish ministry in a curacy post in the West Midlands. Ecumenism has always been important to me and although mainly Anglican, I was recognised and regarded as a Methodist Minister shortly after ordination and went on circuit plan and took an active part in circuit and district business. During my curacy post I also became involved with chaplaincy, both with a local special needs school and a psycho-geriatric hospital.
I moved to Radcliffe in 2004 and continued my association with the Methodist Church and also with chaplaincy, this time with hospice work at Bury Hospice. In 2008 I began an ecumenical post in Wales, which was half-time in Nightingale House Hospice here in Wrexham and the rest of my time spent split between two churches in the village of Rhostyllen, one Anglican and one Presbyterian Church of Wales. When this project came to an end I spent eighteen months continuing half time at the hospice and then added two days a week as a chaplain at our local acute hospital, the Wrexham Maelor.
Since August 2013 I have continued at the hospice and have been developing my own interests in teaching and education. Having completed an MSc in Interdisciplinary Palliative Care in 2012 I am developing my research interest in spiritual wellbeing tools and the personality type profiles of staff.
My interests outside work include skydiving, motorcycles, heavy metal and hill walking – and trying to work out a way of combining them all in one weekend.
Highland Hospice, Inverness
My first hospice post was with Dove House, Hull, in 1999. This was part-time, alongside pastoring an independent evangelical church, until I went full-time in 2003 combining chaplaincy with staff development, and then moved to Highland Hospice early in 2005. Working in Palliative Care has challenged most of my beliefs, strengthening those that matter most, and teaching me to be comfortable with theological loose ends!
I’m married to Carol (an Environmental Health Officer), and we stay on the Black Isle in Ross-shire, in a small farmhouse with just enough land for some hens and occasionally other creatures. We’ve spent a lot of time rebuilding much of the house, but look forward to more time in the hills with boots, camera and one day getting the fishing rods back out… I also enjoy history, reading, the local music, supporting Ross County and helping out at our local church. We have two sons (both married) and one granddaughter, who all live in England.
Southern Area Hospice, Newry
I am the Church of Ireland Rector of Tynan, Aghavilly and Middletown group of parishes in rural Co. Armagh in Northern Ireland. For the past five years I have been a chaplain at the Southern Area Hospice in Newry, Co. Down and am a member of the Senior Staff Group. Prior to this I was a locum Church of Ireland chaplain for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. In addition to being the Northern Ireland representative on the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains I am also a member of the Northern Ireland Healthcare Chaplains Association Executive Committee.
As a non-executive board member on the governing body of Stranmillis University College, Belfast, I have recently finished my term of office after eight very enjoyable years. I have a keen interest in education, having served for the last twenty years in school governance at primary, secondary, grammar, further education and university levels.
I am married to Jennifer who is a primary school secretary and we have two sons; Jonathan, a graduate of Durham University and currently studying medicine at Queen’s University, Belfast; and Philip who is studying Actuarial Science at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. I enjoy gardening and walking in my spare time.
Rowans Hospice, Waterlooville
I am Spiritual Care Chaplain at the Rowans Hospice near Portsmouth. Before starting this role in 2013, I was part of the chaplaincy team at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.
My first experience of chaplaincy was being part of the chaplaincy team at the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in Greater Manchester. Originally I trained as a primary teacher, working in a variety of schools and was ordained in the Church of England in 2005.
I have a husband Paul who is also a Priest and two grown-up daughters. I am passionate about ecologically-friendly gardening – I have three wormeries! I also like to sing.
Arthur Rank House, Cambridge
Keith was born and grew up in London and apart for time out to train as an Anglican priest Keith’s work life has always been in healthcare. He trained as a Dental Technician and then as a Maxillo-Facial Technician; making facial prosthesis, cranioplasties and planning jaw surgery in London and then Ipswich. He was widowed in 1997 when his wife died in a road accident, this was during the selection process for the Church of England and his ministerial training took place at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford and he was ordained in 2001. At college Keith teamed up with another student to form Revelation Racing, both racing MG’s and seeking opportunities for ministry in motorsport. Also quite early on at theological college, in view of all he had experienced in life, Keith felt called to healthcare chaplaincy and following his curacy he became a chaplain in Addenbrookes Hospital In 2004 and then subsequently full-time chaplain at Arthur Rank Hospice also in Cambridge in 2013.
His role there been develop the chaplaincy, to ensure good engagement between the hospice the wider community and to be involved in the design and development of a new hospice which is due to open in November 2016. Keith was awarded an MA in Pastoral Theology (Healthcare Chaplaincy) in 2016.
Keith is now remarried and has 2 children, both at Primary School.
Outside of work at the hospice Keith is a church elder, when family life allows no longer racing he enjoys tinkering with his old MG, gardening and leading worship and providing chaplaincy at several Goodwood motorsport events throughout the year.
Sir Michael Sobell House, Oxford
Bob Whorton has been chaplain at Sir Michael Sobell House Hospice in Oxford for the last nine years. His particular interest is in encouraging a reflective style in ministry which is fun to engage with. Using his experience of hospice chaplaincy, and writing honestly about his inner reactions to this work, he has written a book called ‘Reflective Caring: imaginative listening to pastoral experience’ (London, SPCK, 2011). He is passionate about pastoral supervision.
Bob is a Methodist Minister who has worked in circuit and also in chaplaincy within high-secure psychiatric settings. He enjoys writing poetry and walking with his dog on the water meadows.