Dr Mark Radcliffe, who works at the Priestley unit in Dewsbury, was among 400 special guests who were invited to attend the Queen’s reception for Pope Benedict XVI.
Mark was invited to Holyrood, in Edinburgh, as part of the welcome for the Pope. This was only the second Papal visit to the UK and the first State visit. Mark attended the event as a representative for the Yorkshire and Humber SHA after being nominated by Rev Mike Gartland, head of pastoral and spiritual care.
The reception included Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Nick Clegg and Alex Salmond. The public guests were representatives of British society and included health professionals, business people, the armed forces, religious leaders and charity workers.
As well as his work as an associate specialist for the community mental health team and assertive outreach team in Kirklees, Mark is an Ordained Interfaith Minister with an interest in spirituality and mental health care. He assists on the spiritual retreats organised by the pastoral care team and attended the visit as a representative of how spirituality and faith play an important role in the care provided by the NHS across the SHA.
Speaking about his visit Mark said, "I felt extremely privileged to have been nominated to go and I feel indebted to Mike for putting my name forward. It was a once in a life time experience and it felt slightly surreal being there. There was a real sense of excitement in the air at the same time as apprehension as his trip had been surrounded by controversy. The Pope’s visit was named ‘Heart speaks unto heart’ and I think that really sends out a strong message to everyone, especially us as health professionals. Behind all the bureaucracy that surrounds us, at the centre of everything is the person being cared for and their human experience.
"The Pope spoke about not closing the door to the possibility of faith and spirituality in our lives, and I think as a Trust we are doing our bit to communicate this message, enabling people who use our services to explore new ways of healing and sources of strength."
Staff can find out more about the role of the pastoral and spiritual care team on the intranet.