Westmead Hospital chaplain Brenda Robilliard is hanging up her counselling hat after more than 25 years’ serving the hospital and its staff.
Brenda started her career at Westmead Hospital in 1980 as a nurse, working in ward C5C before she took on nursing unit manager stints in wards A3C, C3A and B5C.
Brenda was also part of the team that established Australia’s first adolescent ward, A4A, describing the time as “exciting”.
“It was a great thing to do because we really felt like we were trail-blazing,” she said.
Brenda left the hospital in the early ’90s to care for her husband, who was the second person in Australia to receive a heart and lung transplant.
She kept a diary during that time and was regularly asked to speak at seminars about her experience.
“I think that’s where the interest in counselling really started,” she said.
“I was speaking at a lot of courses where grief counselling was discussed and I really wanted to learn more.”
Brenda decided to return to Westmead Hospital in 1992 to complete a bereavement support workers course, with a view to go into private practice.
Fast forward 25 years and it’s only now that she’s decided leave the hospital, officially retiring on 4 October 4, 2017.
“I’ll be sad to leave but I’ve been lucky to have done something I love and am passionate about for so long,” she said.
“My heart really beats for the staff here – I’ve been there to debrief with them after the death of a patient, to hold memorial services for them or their family members and I’ve had ongoing involvement with the palliative care team.”
“Westmead will always have a very special place in my heart – I’ve loved being here and being part of the big, busy city that is the hospital.”
Brenda is set to deal with some medical issues before devoting more time to her grandchildren.
Good luck Brenda – we wish you all the best in your next chapter!