Reverend Ann Stevenson – Lead Chaplain

NHS Hero Ann Stevenson thumbSQUIRRELLED AWAY in the back garden of a NHS Chaplain there is a creative hub, which is the bolt hole of Reverend Ann Stevenson, Lead Chaplain for Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.

Ann explained: “After my friend bought me a glass fusing class for a Christmas present two years ago, I enjoyed it so much I built a dedicated studio in my back garden to develop my skill. It is a wonderful past time and brings forth an abundant crop of truly individual presents for my friends and family.”

Glass fusing is a technique where different colours of glass are fused into each other at high temperatures in a special kiln making stunning designs. Ann has drawn inspiration from her faith to create some beautiful timeless pieces. She continued: “I’ve worked at the Trust for 24 years and am the Lead Chaplain, responsible for a small team of Chaplains covering faiths including Christianity, Muslim, Sikh and the Hindu religion.

“In my early career I was a missionary in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico and came back to the UK to study in the Birmingham Bible Institute in 1987 with the intention of returning to the mission field after my three years of study ended.

“I came to the hospital on placement in my third year of study, and the Chaplain in post at that time, Rev. Brian Wigley, invited me to become his assistant – the rest as they say, is history.”

Ann is the ‘go-to woman’ in the Trust for all spiritual and religious enquiries, regardless of faith.

“I mostly see patients on an emergency basis and follow up those on my visiting list, and conduct funerals for the families who have suffered the tragic loss of a baby. I also organise services for the major events in the Christian calendar and work with colleagues from other faiths to facilitate their faith festivals. I work with staff from critical care and maternity to organise special memorial services for those who have died there,” she said.

When asked about her most memorable moments with the trust, Ann struggled to narrow it down.

“I have had far too many to mention. I’ve conducted quite a few weddings in both City and Sandwell Hospital – you can only marry in hospital if you are terminally ill and not expected to leave hospital –  and although these are in the saddest of circumstances, all the other staff involved contribute their time and efforts to make it the most wonderful and memorable occasion for the patient.”

While she is not working, Ann returns to her kiln: “Designs can be as simple as cutting and placing squares and triangles on plain glass to form designs, or cutting and grinding more complicated shapes.

“I’ve been working on all kinds of projects since I set up my own studio, and with Christmas approaching, I’ve been focussing on some special Christmas scenes including candle stands and nativity scenes.

“All my family and friends already know what their gifts will be this year.”

After 24 years of offering spiritual advice to patients and staff within the Trust, Ann thoroughly enjoys her job and enjoys meeting people from many different cultures.

“I enjoy all aspects of Chaplaincy ministry including the challenges, and I meet a wide variety of people who sometimes face difficult situations in different circumstances.

“It’s good to be able to come alongside them and give support where needed.”