Reverend Captain (Retired) Katie Watson
Head of Chaplaincy – The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS FT
Earlier this year I was watching a 6 part Channel 4 series called ‘Geordie Hospital’. The programme featured and highlighting the many highs and lows and the warmth and charm of so many wonderful people who worked within the Trust. For me, It was Katie Watson who was particularly memorable in her role as Head of Chaplaincy. Here was a woman of faith, a mother, with a distinguished military career behind her now in a deeply caring and compassionate role. So how did she get there and what were the challenges both then and now? I decided that I would try and get in touch and I am very glad that I did so as her story is remarkable and compelling on so many fronts. This is taken from the NUTH website.
I joined the army in 1992 at 18 years, completing basic training at Army Women’s Training Centre, Guilford before travelling to undertake trade training with the Royal Military Police at Chichester. Posting to Colchester followed with 2 operational tours to Bosnia and Croatia during the genocide in 1994 and 1995.
Following this I was deployed as a searcher Corporal in Northern Ireland working out of Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn.
Having been selected to attend the 44 week commissioning course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, I was commissioned in August 1997. I returned to the RMP and served at Bulford, Chichester and completed my service as the Policing Captain and Company Second in Command again at Bulford.
I have been with Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as a Chaplain for 14 years, having come here on my placement from Vicar school and never left. From student to Head of Chaplaincy I have never been more called to somewhere so clearly.
The events of the last 30 months have led me to use a lot of my military ethos and training, from conducting a combat estimate in the initial phase of the pandemic, enabling me to work out logically a set of instructions that would move the team forward into a new way of working, to drawing upon the values instilled in me from my time as a soldier to continue to lead throughout the challenges that Covid-19 have brought and continue to bring to us all in the NHS:
Courage – to sit in the spaces others fear to go
Discipline – both personal & corporate
Respect for others – all people equal
Integrity – is the key to all of this, lost that you lose all
Loyalty – not blind following but true loyalty
Selfless commitment – going on for as long as it takes no matter what
Never has my regimental motto ‘Exemplo Ducemus –by example we lead’ and the Sandhurst motto ‘Serve to Lead’ been more important to me.
Working for the NHS within the Trust is challenging and rewarding.
There is a respect for what I have done in the past. A challenging environment in which to thrive with a sense of belonging to a team again. I have been given leadership opportunities, which has enabled me to continue to commit to putting people first and ensure the diversity of all people is honoured. It wasn’t easy leaving the army, it was and continues to be a hard journey but Newcastle upon Tyne Hospital has taken my skills, my scars, my experiences and my sense of vocation and allowed me to develop and grow as a veteran and as a person. I can’t ever repay my Trust for taking a chance on this proud veteran.