Sharon McPhee, Health and Social Care Chaplain, Spiritual Care Centre, Forth Valley Royal Hospital
How did you get involved with chaplaincy?
Well I was called to do prison chaplaincy before becoming a hospital chaplain and that was due to me playing netball with our church team. We got invited into HMP Bronzefield in Surrey to play against the ladies team there and then were asked to join the ladies at their Sunday service. During this time God spoke to me and told me that I would be ministering to these ladies in prison. Fast forward 11 years – I relocated back home to Scotland to support my elderly parents and had been interested in hospital chaplaincy for a while. Luckily a position came up and here I am.
Describe a typical day?
Not sure we have a typical day as it varies from day to day and can change from hour to hour. However, the start is usually the same; I come into the office, check emails, answer the phone and read the daily brief. I would then, if I have space, go to the Neonatal Unit and the Emergency Department just to have a chat with patients and their families. I would visit patients in local wards, if requested. I will also pop out into the community to visit some of our less mobile patients who may have been bereaved.
What are qualities essential for the job?
Compassion, caring, a listening ear, understanding and the ability to bring some hope into sometimes a dark situation. Just being able to provide a calming presence.
What’s the biggest hurdle you have had to overcome?
I would say that there are many hurdles. Just being with someone who is at the end of life and then watching them take their last breath for me is a huge hurdle and I pray and hope that I never get used to it.
My earliest memory is of one playing in the dirt at the front of my close digging for worms and putting them all in a jar. I have lots of fond memories of playing as in our street, in the playing field behind our flats or just going down to the park which was at the bottom of our road.
Favourite meal of the day and what do you like to eat?
I love food in general however I would say that my most recent favourite is, seasoned salmon, green beans and salad.
Possessions you treasure the most?
I would say my first bible. I treasure this simply because it is the very first bible that I owned and understood and it is interesting to go back and read all my thoughts and revelations at that time.
I also hold my children very close to my heart. I have four wonderful children, three boys and one girl. They are such a joy they keep me on my toes and always keep me grounded. I love encouraging them, guiding them and watching them grow and solve issues. It’s such a pleasure to be able to share life experiences with them now that they are older. My youngest is 17 and oldest 29 so they share and discuss issues with me and it’s great to see them grow and develop into reasonable human beings.
Best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Take each day as it comes and remember your glass is always half full.
Spender or saver?
Traveller or home bird?
Home bird. I love being at home, I love coming in at the end of the day putting some music on and preparing dinner. The kids come in, well the two younger ones, from work and college. We catch up and they eat and then I either relax or go to the gym, bible study or church – whatever is on in the evening. But nothing beats being at home just relaxing with the kids.
What scares you most in life?
Never being able to help people – I do not like that thought because I always think if I can’t help someone then what’s the point.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I see myself in another country ministering the Gospel. My plan is to see the last two children off to university and once they are settled, I will be going to Trinidad. I have some friends who have almost completed the building of their church and are planning to teach the local children music. They have invited me over to minister. I also will be going off to Ghana at some stage to help prisons out there with community chaplaincy so families and children can visit and stay in touch.