Margaret Lillis, Hospice Chaplain

An important cog in the Bereavement Services’ wheel is the work of the Hospice chaplain.

Margaret Lillis, who celebrates her 70th birthday in April, is one of the most familiar faces for staff , visitors and patients.

And its because of this that her workload has increased substantially over the last year with hundreds of people looking to her for support - from conducting a funeral service to just having time for a coffee.

“Despite the lack of church membership in our society, I think people are looking to me as the Chaplain, because I’m a face they have come to know. and often, although not they will not necessarily regard themselves as ‘religious’, they know they want ‘something’ when a loved one passes away” she says.

Margaret offers endless supplies of coffee and conversation to the many different people who seek her out at the Hospice.

“Some are angry, some are upset, some are in complete shock,” she says. “So I don’t assume anything. It’s not about me telling them  – its about listening to them. I join them on their journey, and walk beside them at their own pace.”

Margaret admits the job can be very challenging but despite the all-consuming nature of her work she also describes it as “ the greatest privilege I’ve ever had.”

“I have spent the whole of my professional life in education, so this is completely different,” says Margaret, who was Head Teacher at St. Paul’s Primary School in Poynton, from 1995- 2000, and until her retirement in 2011, Assistant Director of Schools for the Shrewsbury Diocese “I often hear so many incredible life stories and I’m very honoured to share that with families.”

Margaret, who lives close to the Hospice, has conducted 42 funerals last year and has led five more this year. And its her proximity to the Millbank Drive Hospice which keeps her in demand. Her parting words of ‘you can always get me’, mean she is often called upon late at night or in the early hours of the morning.

However, with her stated intention of wanting to “burn out, not rust out”, Margaret love relaxing by playing her guitar and is planning some social time off with a ceilidh planned in April to mark her 70th birthday, and she has also booked off some “baby days” to enjoy the arrival of her God-daughter’s second child.