The Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care department was originally founded by hospital staff and volunteers and relied on the goodwill of local church leaders to provide religious cover. It was first based in an old annex off ward 15.
When the first full-time chaplain, the Rev Jessica Turner was appointed in 2002, she helped design and develop the current chapel which is now led by Rev Ian Baxter (Baptist).
Since then two prayer rooms have also opened, these are largely used by the Muslim staff, patients and visitors, who make up the hospital community.
In the year that marks the 75th anniversary of the NHS, the team is looking forward to moving to a new home.
Ian said: “We will be opening a new Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Centre just off the hospital main corridor. This is an exciting opportunity to improve the facilities for all who visit, and the addition of a quiet room and ablution facilities is very welcome.”
Not everything will be new. Moving too are the chapel’s stained-glass windows. A double rainbow window was donated in memory of nurse John Shaw by St Annes Christian Council and Arnold Junior School.
A second window, which is illuminated using a light box, was created in memory of the hospital’s first matron, Miss Elsie H. Maclean. Remembered as forward-thinking and awarded a Coronation medal by the Queen in 1953, her window was given to the chapel by the Blackpool and District League of Nurses.
“The chapel and our additional spiritual rooms act as a safe space where anyone can seek support, should that be through spiritual guidance, bereavement or even laughter and joy as seen recently with some emergency weddings,” added Ian.
He is supported by the Rev Clive Lord, the Rev Helen Houston and the Rev Paul Berry (Church of England); Father Andrew Dawson and Patrick Hynes (Roman Catholic); Imam Ashfaq Rafiq Patel (Muslim); and Rev Jim Williams (United Reformed Church).
In addition to a regular schedule of worships, the team is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Most recently, Ian attended the Emergency Department early one Saturday to give help to a bereaved family. The team support all colleagues providing support for families in crisis, for example their work with the SWAN end of life and bereavement team and training of staff.