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Hospital chaplain steps into retirement after ‘amazing’ nine years

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 04, 2014

19/03/14 Pic of vicer who is leaving queen's hospital
Paul Barrett - Head of Spiritual Care Services (Chaplaincy  Bereavement) at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

19/03/14 Pic of vicer who is leaving queen's hospital Paul Barrett - Head of Spiritual Care Services (Chaplaincy Bereavement) at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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THE head of chaplaincy at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is retiring after nine years in the job.

Paul Barrett described his role as ‘the best job I’ve ever had’, adding he was extremely grateful to the trust for having him

During his time with the trust, Mr Barrett managed to develop the chaplaincy service to become a respected service which provides support to patients and staff in times of need.

He introduced the chaplaincy visitor service in 2007, recruiting and training volunteers to provide additional pastoral and spiritual support to patients and staff on all wards.

He said “I’ve had a challenging and amazing time here. I’ve used gifts and skills I didn’t realise I had and it has given me a new lease of life.

“I couldn’t have hoped to have finished my working life on a higher note than I am on this week. Moving forward, I am looking forward to spending time at home and most importantly spending time with my wife.”

Mr Barrett, who stepped down this week, began his career as a parish priest 42 years ago.

He said he had enjoyed experiences he would ‘never forget’ during his time at the trust.

“I remember one patient in particular who didn’t want to know me. I used to stop by his ward every day and say, ‘hi, how you doing?’ and he would say, ‘fine thank you, bye’. Then, one day, he said, ‘have you got five minutes, I’d like to talk to you?’ and that was it.

“I did his wedding blessing and when he was at home dying, the person he kept calling for was me. That was one of the most significant encounters I’ve experienced,” he added.

Alison Thorp will be taking over as head of spiritual care on Monday. She joins the trust from the George Elliott Hospital in Nuneaton, where she has been team chaplain for three years.

She said: “I’m desperately excited to start my career at the trust. I have a history here as my three my daughters were born at Queen’s hospital. What attracted me to the role was the size and culture of the trust; people in the local community feel they have ownership over the hospital which is important. I’m coming in to a strong model of chaplaincy and I’m excited to grow the service further.”

Helen Ashley, chief executive of the trust, said it was a ‘sad day’ for the trust as Mr Barrett stepped down.

She added: “Since Paul has been at the trust the chaplaincy service has grown and we have seen a number of changes which Paul has been a fundamental part of. There is something unique about Paul and the way in which he works and he will be missed by many.”

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