All the very best Heather: Our spiritual coordinator is retiring

Published on: 29/02/2024

Heather Macleod really is a great person to speak to. As a minister of the United Reformed Church (URC) for many years, Heather’s deep faith underpins her ability to have brought spiritual support to so many of our patients and their families, regardless of background, whether they have their own faith, or none.

Heather is retiring from the hospice and she will be greatly missed.

Her mum, Margaret, was a lady of strong faith and Heather remembers being taken to Sunday School from around the age of three. She began to enjoy the lessons and stories and, by her late teens, Heather was put in charge of Sunday School and the midweek Youth Club in her local church, St Paul’s, “mainly because I’m not very good at saying no!” she

In the mid-nineties the hospice advertised to the local churches to see if there was anyone who would be interested in becoming the hospice chaplain. Heather applied and to her great surprise, following what she describes as “an excruciating interview” (only for her), she was duly appointed to the role.

Ever since, she has set about her task with relish, striving to understand in each person’s case what can help to bring them peace of mind.

This is not always about religion as sometimes people find the spiritual meaning of life in nature, art, sport or music.

Sometimes people just like to chat to Heather in private or with their families around, reminiscing about happy and sad experiences and their hopes for the future.

Heather with Wellbeing volunteer Sue at the River of Memories mosaic

For those who share her Christian faith, Heather is happy to pray with folk and give them communion. For Catholics, or others who need their own priest, pastor or faith leader she will arrange for the relevant person to come and see them.

Spiritual assistants, Julie Rigby, Fiona Barrick and Fiona Cadlow have been a part of Heather’s team most recently and she  is very grateful to them, and all her previous volunteers, for their dedication and support.

Heather has been asked on many occasions to conduct family funerals, often for people who had never met her before their time in our care. She has also been integral in organising remembrance services for bereaved relatives and friends.

Being naturally open and honest Heather can talk about her own experience of having breast cancer, resulting in a full mastectomy along with chemotherapy and radiotherapy in 2011.

My faith, the support of my family and my church family meant that I felt at peace throughout the whole experience. It has also given me a deeper understanding of what our patients and their families may have been through.

Thirteen years on Heather is fit and well and really enjoyed her second stint as spiritual co-ordinator.

Her other great joy nowadays is granddaughter Izzie, “fourteen going on twenty,” Heather beams. “She’s the light of
our lives, a joy and a delight.”

A light that clearly shines. Happy retirement Heather. Keep on shining!