A respected chaplain at Katharine House Hospice is retiring from the hospice after years of providing comfort for people affected by life-limiting illnesses.

James Grote, who has been at the hospice for more than six years, will officially retire from Katharine House on Thursday 16 December.

On top of his regular services (aimed at people of any or no faith), James has provided spiritual advisement, organised annual lights of love events, lead special anniversary ceremonies and even been the pantomime dame at Christmas, and much more.

James, who is looking forward to spending time with family and simply having space, said he never wanted to do anything other than serve in the ministry and went to college to study it when he was just 18 years old.

Since then, he has enjoyed a rich and rewarding vocation as a Baptist minister, describing the work as incredibly varied, but he quickly learned that his heart lied in pastoral care, alongside people in the community.

“You play to your strengths and discover what you like, what you’re good at and who you are. The thread that has run through all my work has been people. Working with people, regardless of their faith, is the part that is most important to me and matters to me the most.

“You are never done learning about yourself. I have realised this from my time at Katharine House and being with people who are at the end of their life or coming towards it. Every experience brings an understanding of who you are."

James said that his time at Katharine House had been incredibly special: “Katharine House provides a place where people can openly talk about death and bereavement – the most difficult things to confront in life. The hospice embraces people and leaves everyone feeling that they are being heard and listened to. It’s a safe place that helps people to deal with the hardest, coldest and most difficult times. People feel like they belong for as long as they stay at Katharine House.”

"The hospice embraces people and leaves everyone feeling that they are being heard and listened to. It’s a safe place that helps people to deal with the hardest, coldest and most difficult times."

James recently led the 2021 Lights of Love services, which took place across five places of worship across the town to give people the opportunity to remember loved ones who died during the pandemic.

­­­­­Katharine House CEO Trevor Johnson said: “Not only does James provide immeasurable comfort to our patients and their loved ones, but he has been a constant source of support for our staff as well. Morale was severely affected by the pandemic and he helped to keep everyone going through many dark days.

“James will leave some very big shoes to fill and he will be missed terribly by the whole community, but all of our very best wishes go with him as he enters his retirement.”

Katharine House Hospice