A CHAPLAIN at St George’s Hospital has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours list.

The Reverend Canon Ian Ainsworth-Smith, 65, was awarded the Membership of the Order of the British Empire at the weekend for services to the NHS.

A chaplain at the hospital since 1973, Ian is to retire next month after 33 years of ministry at St George’s.

Commenting on his award, Canon Ian Ainsworth-Smith said:

“It is a humbling experience to have had the opportunity to meet so many people over the past three decades. Their willingness to share so much of themselves is something I shall never forget.

“While it is a tremendous privilege to receive the award, what I hope the honour draws attention to is the marvellous work of the multi-faith chaplaincy team, which over the years has provided spiritual comfort to thousands of patients and their families at times of great sadness and anguish.

“I shall take into my retirement many happy memories of St George’s, and I am so grateful for the times I have been able to share in the life of this wonderful Hospital.”

Ian, who has also been an Honorary Canon of Southwark Cathedral since 1995, was born in North London and trained for the Church of England Ministry at Cambridge University and in the USA.

Congratulating Ian on his award, the hospital’s chief executive, Peter Homa, said:

“If anyone deserves this birthday honour, it’s Ian.

“He has invested so much of his life in the service of this hospital and its patients, and there can be no finer tribute to a man who has put thousands of other people before himself.

“Ian is such an important figure in our community and we will be very sad to see him leave the hospital when he retires next month.”

A number of faiths are represented in the hospital’s chaplaincy team, which includes Anglican Chaplains, a Free Church minister, an Imam, a Rabbi and a Roman Catholic priest.

Representatives from local churches and students also come to the hospital to provide spiritual comfort and support to patients and their relatives.