The Archbishop of Canterbury blesses Mildmay’s new hospital

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby blesses Mildmay’s newly opened HIV hospital in East London.

It was an exciting day when we learnt that The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, had agreed to bless our brand new purpose built hospital in East London. We knew that the Archbishop’s diary books up years in advance, so for him to find time in his busy schedule to visit, was indeed a great honour. It demonstrates how much he values our work and how important he felt it was for him give it his blessing.

Monday 3rd November dawned and the skies were heavy with the promise of rain. The stone set to commemorate this momentous day was located in our small courtyard garden, so we were all hoping the rain would hold off until after the visit.

Preparations had been made and rain or no rain, the time had come for the welcome party to gather in reception.

The Archbishop of Canterbury arrived on foot having taken the tube to Shoreditch. Mildmay’s fine old Victorian clock looked out from the face of our brand new hospital, watching on as our esteemed guest made his way towards the building.

Mildmay Hospital blessing by The Archbishop of Canterbury JustinThose invited to meet The Archbishop on his arrival included a nurse, a volunteer, a Trustee and some long serving members of staff. Also waiting to meet his Grace was the great grandson of Mildmay’s first ever Victorian Medical Director – Dr William Gauld and Helen Taylor Thompson who fought to save Mildmay from closure and founded Mildmay as a specialised HIV hospital in the UK in 1986.

The Archbishop then held a private moment of prayer and blessing in the new chapel. Around eighty invited guests joined for a service, which was opened in prayer by The Archbishop. He then toured the hospital, blessing many of the rooms where our rehabilitation work takes place. After blessing our fundraising room he joked that if the cash didn’t come in we could “call him up for a refund!”Mildmay Hospital blessing by The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin

He then visited the wards where he met some patients. This was a moving and very special moment for the patients who had especially asked to be introduced to The Archbishop.

Mildmay Hospital blessing by The Archbishop of Canterbury JustinThe visit concluded as guests gathered in the hospital’s small courtyard garden where The Archbishop blessed the building in front of the stone set to commemorate this momentous visit. The skies held and the branded Mildmay umbrellas provided especially for the occasion remained thankfully in their wrappings!

The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in Mildmay’s visitor’s book: “You are the arms of support, the everlasting arms”

Dr Ross White, Director of Mildmay said: “We were greatly honoured that Archbishop Justin Welby found the time in his busy schedule to make this important visit to Mildmay. As we work to transform even more lives back to health and independence, it meant a great deal to us all to have our building and work blessed by His Grace.”

As well as marking the opening of the brand new Mildmay hospital, it was heartening and encouraging for staff and volunteers to have our vital work recognised in this way. It clearly meant a great deal to those patients who had the opportunity to meet The Archbishop of Canterbury. This was a truly unforgettable and wonderful day, one that will join many other prestigious occasions in Mildmay’s long history

To see more photographs from this visit please go to Mildmay’s Facebook page.

Thanks to Kois Miah photographer: