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Goodbye and thank you, Sarah!


After nearly 30 years as a healthcare Chaplain in the NHS, the Revd Sarah Sewell, our Lead Chaplain, has retired.

Sarah was one of the first women to be ordained as a Church of England priest in 1994 and has worked across NHS trusts in the south, joining OUH in 2018 to lead our Chaplaincy team, for nearly three decades.

A Service of Thanksgiving was held at the Churchill Hospital to thank Sarah for her work and wish her well in her retirement.

Sarah, who worked as a nursery nurse and a police officer before becoming a priest, said: "Working as a Chaplain in the NHS has been a huge privilege, even when things have been tough.

"It has been an honour to work with such a compassionate team in supporting people – patients, visitors and staff – who need us. Helping people through their journey and to be trusted by them means so much to me. I hope that I have made a difference to them."

She added: "Thank you to my colleagues for their support, particularly during difficult times, and I am looking forward to seeing the team build on what we have achieved together."

Sarah's retirement plans include supporting her local church, getting involved with local community groups, and enjoying more time with her family.

Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, Chair of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Chaplains are integral members of our healthcare team, employed to care for the pastoral and spiritual needs of the whole hospital community – regardless of their beliefs.

"Sarah has touched many lives and, on behalf of the Trust, I am so thankful for all of her dedicated work over the last five-and-a-half years and for the inspiration she has provided to those she works with and cares for.

"Sarah has led this team by example and, while we are sad to lose her, we wish her all the best for the future."

Colleague Ruth Fitter, Team Chaplain, added: "Thank you to Sarah on behalf of the Chaplaincy team past and present for the compassion and love she has given. Sarah has built a team that is centred on that love, for the benefit of patients, visitors and staff alike."

Sarah recently received an award from the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire for her "compassionate and caring leadership over the years" as a healthcare Chaplain and as a priest.

Her nomination added that she "embodies the Trust values of compassion, respect, excellence, improvement, delivery, and learning in enabling people’s spiritual, pastoral, and religious needs to be met while receiving care, visiting or working in the Trust".

The OUH Chaplaincy team supports patients, visitors and staff of any faith or belief group, including those without faith. They are available 24 hours a day throughout the year across our hospital sites and hospices.

Pictured: From left, Ruth Fitter (Team Chaplain), Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery (Chair), Revd Sarah Sewell (Lead Chaplain), and Caroline Heason (Head of Patient Experience)