One of St Luke’s longest-serving members of staff has retired after 30 years’ service at the hospice.
Dr Kate Smith (known to many simply as ‘Dr Kate’) has dedicated her career to improving end of life care for people in the area and has touched the lives of hundreds of families during her career.
Colleagues, nurses, volunteers and patrons of St Luke’s gathered this week to wish her the very best in her retirement and to thank her for her incredible service over the last three decades.
Rosie Spiegelberg, patron of St Luke’s, said: “Dr Kate is part of the fabric of St Luke’s. She has been out of this world, giving up her time over and over for the benefit of patients.
“I thank her from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of all the staff and volunteers at the Hospice, for her incredible input over the last 30 years.”
Dr Kate joined the hospice as a volunteer doctor supporting day hospice patients when St Luke’s first opened its doors back in 1988.
Two years later she was appointed medical director and has spent the rest of her career caring for patients and supporting their families at St Luke’s.
She took just six weeks off after the birth of her first child in 1991, and over the years her daughters Sophie and Georgina became well known by patients as they brought smiles and chatter to the wards when their mum was called out on evenings and weekends.
Incidentally, St Luke’s sent us a picture of Dr Kate from 1991 (holding her daughter Sophie, stood next to matron Edith Reeves and chef Roy Garside) and we thought we’d share it with you – see below!
Speaking about her time at St Luke’s, Dr Kate said: “I feel that working at St Luke’s has not just been a job, but has been a way of life, a vocation.
“Medical care is not always about doing something to people, it’s also about being with them.
“There is not always something ‘to do’, but there is always the opportunity to be with, and that time is very valuable.”
She added: “I feel very privileged that I have been allowed into peoples’ lives at possibly the most vulnerable and difficult times they will have known, and been able to be alongside them.
“St Luke’s has been a great place to work, where the team is like a family and I know I will miss it.
“However, the opportunity for relaxation will not last very long because I’m going to be a granny in November, and I expect I’ll be wondering how I ever found the time to work!”
St Luke’s has received countless messages from families in the area whose lives Dr Kate has touched.
Lisa Warburton wrote: “Dr Kate helped my Dad John Warburton in 2010 when he spent the last 11 weeks of his life in St Luke’s.
“An amazing, inspirational, down-to-earth lady who put him at ease and helped so much. I won’t forget her and would like to wish her a long, happy, healthy retirement.”
Pauline Rigby wrote: “I would just like to thank Dr Kate for her kindness and understanding she showed to my brother and the rest of the family during his time in the hospice.
“During what was a very difficult time she treated us all with care and understanding, nothing was ever too much trouble for her. Her kindness will never be forgotten and I wish her a very happy retirement.”