Royal visit to Clitheroe shines spotlight on the hospital's important chaplaincy service to staff and patients

A recent visit to Clitheroe Community Hospital by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was also an opportunity to gain an insight into the vital work of NHS hospital chaplains.

By Faiza Afzaal
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 12:30 pm

Prince William and Kate Middleton were guests of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and their charity "ELHT&Me" in their roles as Royal Patrons of NHS Charities Together.

They met NHS staff to hear about their incredible work caring for patients and families throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prince William was heard to comment: “We’re so grateful for all your hard work. I’m not sure there are enough words to say how grateful everyone is for what you have done.”

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The Duke and Duchess are all smiles as Denise Gee, Charity Manager at ELHT, introduces them to trainee therapy puppy dog ‘Alfie’ while the Trust’s Chaplain, Rev. Canon Andrew Horsfall, looks on. Photo credit: ELHT

During their visit, the Duke and Duchess were also introduced to an adorable trainee therapy puppy dog called "Alfie" by hospital chaplain, the Rev. Canon Andrew Horsfall.

Alfie – a cockapoo – is the second dog to join the team and is funded by a grant from NHS Charities Together, via ELHT&Me.

While they gave Alfie a cuddle, Rev. Horsfall provided William and Kate with some insights into the work of the chaplaincy and spiritual care service; particularly how it has provided invaluable support to staff, patients and patients’ families throughout the pandemic.

One of the more unusual but highly significant and valued aspects of this work has been the introduction of the therapy dogs like Alfie, who can bring some joy and comfort in difficult times.

The Duke and Duchess are all smiles as Denise Gee, Charity Manager at ELHT, introduces them to trainee therapy puppy dog ‘Alfie’ while the Trust’s Chaplain, Rev. Canon Andrew Horsfall, looks on. Photo credit: ELHT

Reflecting on the Royal visit a few days on, Rev Horsfall commented: “As chaplains, we are constantly seeking to support the wellbeing of everyone involved in the hospital in whatever ways we can. This Royal visit was a great opportunity to highlight that work and the Duke and Duchess took a great interest in what we do and thanked us for our care.

“Meanwhile, Alfie proved to be a great ambassador for us! He was the star of the day; William and Kate loved him!

“We have a handler who looks after the therapy dog and the spiritual care service also oversees the work to acquire, train and deploy the therapy dogs in the most beneficial ways.”

Rev. Horsfall continued: “Alfie’s role, along with our much loved and experienced therapy dog Jasper, is to help people to feel better and to make them smile.

“During the peaks of the pandemic, my amazing NHS colleagues were giving their all in caring for patients. We found that providing space for them to come and cry; talk with us if they wished, reflect on their experiences and then go back to the wards to carry on giving of themselves was very much appreciated.”

Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Services like the one provided through ELHT are multi-faith and are a vital part of the services offered by the NHS locally, regionally and nationally.