Later this month, Sarah Wilton, the Trust’s longest serving Non-Executive Director, steps down from the role she has held for nine years.

As a member of the Trust Board for just under a decade, Sarah has seen the organisation undergo a huge amount of change during that time.

We caught up with Sarah to hear more about her experiences with the Trust, and what her stand-out memories of St George’s will be.

Sarah said: “I’ve always lived in Putney, and I knew a lot about St George’s through my role as a Non-Executive Director with what was then Wandsworth Primary Care Trust.

“My parents had also started to use local health services more and more; so I knew first-hand how excellent the NHS could be, but also the frustrations people sometimes experience. So I decided I wanted to get a bit more involved, which was when the St George’s role came up.”

“I just felt I could make a difference”

Sarah joined St George’s as a Non-Executive Director in 2011, having been extensively involved only a year previously in the transfer of community services to the Trust.

Sarah said: “I’ve spent my career in the financial services sector, and I just felt I could make a difference. I’ve had a number of different roles as a Non-Executive Director; but, throughout my time, I’ve always been struck by the enthusiasm of staff, and their appetite often in very challenging circumstances to make St George’s a better place for patients.”

She continued: “Being a Non-Executive Director is a real privilege, but it also brings an enormous responsibility with it. People care deeply about this organisation, which is why I have always taken the role so seriously. As a Non-Executive Director, you can see very clearly the demands that are placed on everyone, including the executive team; but I also know that I need to use my skills to ensure plans and initiatives are appropriate, which sometimes means asking difficult and challenging questions.”

Sarah added: “I believe passionately that we need to involve local people in key decisions about the Trust, and this is something I have always advocated and pushed for. I do believe we are much better at this now than we used to be, although there is definitely more we can do. There is so much energy and goodwill out there in the community, we just need to make sure we tap into it!”

Life after St George’s

Sarah will continue to be busy when her formal association with the Trust comes to an end later this month.

She holds two other Non-Executive roles, and also sits as a Magistrate at Wimbledon Magistrates Court – a role that has given her “a huge insight into the local community, and the challenges some people face. It generally involves a day once a fortnight – which enables me to use the skills as I have, but also means I continue to learn new things as well, which is always important.”

She will leave St George’s with fond memories, as well as a few funny ones – including getting lost and having to be rescued on one occasion. Sarah recalls: “St George’s is a pretty big hospital, and I once got to the bottom of a stairwell only to find myself locked in and unable to get out! After banging on the doors and shouting for a bit, I managed to get hold of the then director of estates, who kindly came to rescue me, much to my embarrassment! That was a long time ago, but I still get lost occasionally!”

She concludes: “I feel really proud to have played a role in the Trust’s resurgence, and I really do believe the organisation is now better placed than it ever has been to aim high, so I really hope everyone reaches for the stars. I would also like to say a big thank you to St George’s staff – who make the organisation the very special place it is, and will no doubt continue to be.”