Publish date: 16 June 2022

On Monday, service users and staff from Whalley assembled in St Luke’s Chapel for one last service.

The church was built a century ago and has continued to be the place for celebrations, socialising and various religious services. As the whole Whalley site retracts, it was agreed it was vital to have a ‘valedictory’ service to mark the chapel’s closure. Rev Karen Jobson led the well-attended and emotional event. It began with Director of Estates Elaine Darbyshire thanking attendees which included a number of friends and stakeholders, and also explaining the site retraction.

During the event, several service users came to the front to speak of receiving certificates and trophies or just having fun at the Friday night club there. On behalf of head of service Julia Musker, modern matron Steph Phillips read a tribute and gave her own memories of St Luke’s. Former governor Cllr June Brown spoke of the kindness of staff and her joy at attending many Christmas concerts and plays there. As at the remembrance service, the Royal British Legion’s County Chairman, Parade Marshal and Membership Officer were also in attendance.  Crosses, made by service users and OTs, were blessed and shared.

In a poignant moment, the Standard of the Royal British Legion was solemnly lowered as the local vicar read out the names of soldiers from the First World War who were treated and are buried nearby. They are commemorated on a plaque inside St Luke’s and as an example, the story of one gunner from Australia was read out. The service ended with a cheer for St Luke himself, the patron saint of doctors and someone historically associated with art and studying.

The national decision to end learning disability services in Whalley means we will come off the site in 2023, with the low secure provision moving to Aspen Wood, the new LSU for learning disability in Maghull. Messages of thanks from guests all speak of Mersey Care’s hospitality and that special Whalley welcome. Rev Karen and John Rowbotham would like to thank all attendees, and those service users who prepared art or speeches, and also staff from Our Shared College and Facilities, especially the catering team, for their brilliant work on this last event for St Luke’s.

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[Photo: Elaine Darbyshire in the centre with (L-R) the Vicar of Whalley, Rev Jonathan Carmyllie, British Legion representatives and Rev Karen Jobson, and the model of the old hospital site in the foreground.]