Bishop thanks local NHS staff for going 'towards the danger' during pandemic

First published on: 20th November 2021

The Bishop of Tonbridge has thanked local NHS and other frontline staff, for going 'towards danger' during the pandemic, on behalf of the rest of us.

He spoke at a special service of thanksgiving for the staff of Medway Maritime Hospital and other frontline workers, which was held at St Augustine's Church, Gillingham on Saturday 20 November.

Among those present were the Mayor of Medway, Councillor Jan Aldous, Councillor Clive Johnston and Councillor Wendy Purdy who was responsible for initiating the service. Also representatives from Medway Council, the local Salvation Army and Medway Maritime Hospital.

Speaking particularly to the NHS staff and key workers present, Bishop Simon said:

"Every war has a front line. Covid did.  And you were on it."

He continued:  

"Brave, well-trained soldiers advance towards that which menaces them, in order to neutralise the threat.  You did that.  Day after day, you got up and went to work, putting yourself at risk in the place in our community where Covid was most infectious, most lethal.  You went towards the danger.

"Thank you for doing that. The consequences for the rest of us if you hadn’t do not bear thinking about."

He spoke of the 'huge burden' they had bourne in holding back the 'dam' of Covid, and the toll it will have taken upon them physically and emotionally:

"The overwhelming pressure that medical staff faced as hospitals were filled would have impacted on you in ways the rest of us can only imagine.  Exhaustion and burnout can eventually follow when no matter how hard you work, the needs keep piling up like a developing motorway jam.  But you kept caring for the person and for Jesus himself.  I hope and pray that medical staff who fall sick now will find gentle hands and listening ears to care for them in return."

He concluded by assuring the NHS staff and key workers present, of the continued gratitude of the community:

"Beyond today lies a chance to re-shape our common life and the value of other people’s bodies.  But in the midst of the crisis, the opportunity that falls to us so clearly today is to say thank you. You stepped up to the front line and you kept on stepping up."  

The service was also an opportunity to commission and introduce the Rev Ruth Bierbaum, who was recently licensed as the new Lead Chaplain at Medway Maritime Hospital. 

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