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10 March 2022

ChapelSt Luke’s Chapel in Heatherwood has provided a space for reflection for patients and staff for more than 55 years and yesterday an official closing ceremony was held ahead of the move into the new building.  

The small gathering, led by Right Reverend Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, saw key staff representatives and local faith leaders come together in a moving ceremony to bid farewell to the historic chapel. 

The service included a speech from the local Mayor, councillor John Story, the Act of Dedication by the Bishop of Reading and prayers from different faith leaders. In a touching tribute to the chapel. 

Reverend Olivia talked about how St Luke’s had provided a place of comfort, healing and mourning for thousands of patients and staff, and how she herself had visited the chapel on several occasions when she was a cancer patient at the hospital. 

After the St Luke’s ceremony, Reverend Olivia led the congregation in a procession to the new Heatherwood, where a second multi-faith service took place to bless the new hospital.   

Due to COVID restrictions, the number of attendees was limited to 25. Representing staff from different departments across the Trust, the ceremony was attended by Nigel Foster, director of finance, Michelle Youens, head of patient experience, Katharine Horsfall, associate director of Heatherwood, Jonathan Bryant, head of nursing clinical change and Mike Stone, volunteer services manager.   

The chapel of St Luke was fundraised for and built by the League of Friends of Heatherwood Hospital in 1966.  In February 1965, the first foundation stone was laid by Major General David Dawney and the following year the chapel was officially dedicated by the Bishop of Reading, the Right Reverend Eric Knell.  

When the chapel first opened, all of the interior fittings and furnishings had been funded by the hospital’s local residents and kind donations from the League of Friends. Many of these items remain today, such as a special brass cross and candlesticks, and will be taken to the multi-faith room in the new hospital building to mark the chapel’s history.  

One of the most precious items that will be carefully preserved in the new reflection space are the two baby memorial books that were created to remember the short lives of the babies lost in Heatherwood Hospital.  

Reverend Jennifer Sistig, Lead Chaplain, said: “It was a wonderful afternoon and we were honoured to have the mayor and so many key local faith leaders present. St Luke’s is such an important part of the hospital’s history, it has provided a quiet space for comfort and reflection for decades and this will now be carried over to the multi-faith room in the new building.”  

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