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Leeds volunteer awarded BEM in New Year’s Honours

Thursday 4th January 2018

For over twenty years, Sheila Miller has been volunteering at Leeds Teaching Hospitals (LTHT) and St Gemma’s Hospice supporting patients and their families.

Sheila was nominated for a British Empire Medal (BEM) by colleagues at Leeds Teaching Hospitals and St Gemma’s Hospice for the difference she has made to patients and staff as a Spiritual Care volunteer.

Every week Sheila volunteers in the Emergency Department (ED) and on J93 at St James’s Hospital.

Sheila MillerSheila’s role helps to free up nursing time in a busy Emergency Department, and her work includes supporting staff by providing refreshments, information on waiting times and good company for patients and families during their time in ED. Sheila’s experience in bereavement support is also invaluable to families who suffer bereavement while in the department.

Rosie Horsman, Lead Nurse for Patient Experience at LTHT, who nominated Sheila for the Honour said: “Whenever Sheila turns up for work, the nursing staff in ED feel assured and confident that patients and their families will be well looked after.  Sheila is also helping us to recruit new volunteers by providing training and shadowing opportunities. As a result, we now have a volunteer working in ED every day which is making a huge difference to patients.

Sheila is an inspiration and very deserving of this award for everything she has done for us at LTHT and in the community. It has been a pleasure to work with her over the years.”

Julian Hartley, Chief Executive at LTHT, said: “Sheila has dedicated a phenomenal amount of time to supporting our staff and patients over the years. We are incredibly grateful for everything she has done and continues to do for volunteering at LTHT. Congratulations Sheila and thank you for all of your hard work.”

Sheila also works at St Gemma’s Hospice, providing support to families, conducting memorial services and leading their Christmas ‘Light up a life’ service. Sheila also meets and supports visiting priests and runs a monthly bereavement support group.

Jason Kirk, Acting Chief Executive at St Gemma’s Hospice, said:

“We are so proud of Sheila for receiving this honour. Sheila has dedicated many years to St Gemma’s, supporting patients and their families at one of the most difficult times in their lives. She always has time for everyone.

Sheila was instrumental in setting up the Hospice’s beautiful ‘Tree of Life’ which provides a really poignant way for families to remember a loved one. It’s also raised a significant amount of income to support patient care over many years. We are so grateful to Sheila for her wonderful contribution in so many ways.”

Sheila worked as a registered nurse and wanted to spend her retirement using the skills she learnt during this time to improve care for patients.

“I can’t put into words how much I love volunteering and the work that I do. Coming into hospital or a hospice is a really difficult time and I just want to make it a little bit brighter for patients and their families. I sit with people and hold their hand, answer questions and make a cup of tea. Quite often it’s those little acts of kindness that mean a great deal to people when they’re scared or upset.

I still can’t quite believe I was nominated for a BEM. There is a lot of wonderful work being done by volunteers all across the city and I am delighted to accept this honour on behalf of them all, and everyone I work with at LTHT and St Gemma’s.”