One of the fun things I get to do as CEO is attend events, including the many blessings we have held recently for parts of the new Harley Gray Building (CSB) at Middlemore Hospital. During my tenure at CM Health, I’ve been to countless blessings but one I attended recently really stands out from the rest. I’m talking, of course, about the blessing for the new home of our Non Clinical Support Services staff.
Instead of simply having the speeches and karakia which are customary at blessings, the department decided to turn it into a real celebration of who we are at CM Health. And what a celebration it was! The 400 or so staff in our Non Clinical Support Services (who work as cleaners, orderlies, linen and uniform staff, and in the mail room, telephone exchange or administration offices) represent at least 10 different nationalities and the blessing was designed to reflect and celebrate that diversity, while also having a lot of fun. I managed to present a greeting in 16 different languages and (sadly) still miss out on a couple of greetings that represented some of the nationalities in the room.
All in all, the celebration was one of vibrancy, colour and excitement as we were entertained by dancing, singing and cultural performances. Unfortunately some of the entertainment was at my expense as I proved without a shadow of a doubt that CEOs can’t dance. On previous occasions, I’ve always avoided situations where I might be pulled up to the dance floor. For instance, when the Fanau Ola celebration was held in Ko Awatea earlier in the year, I quietly absented myself when I saw the Cook Island dancers arriving. This time, however, it wasn’t Cook Islanders who got me but some Samoans (as a Welshman I am used to getting out-manoeuvred by Samoans). As you can see in these photos, I joined in the dancing and despite it all, thoroughly enjoyed myself. It really was a splendid example of the fun that can be had when you simply celebrate who you are and be yourself.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be looking forward to Christmas and maybe even to the year ahead. I will post a final blog for the year later this week but for now I just want to reflect on the many new beginnings 2014 will bring for us with a new Board and Chairwoman, the new Harley Gray Building opening and no doubt some new challenges too. Right now, when we’re all concentrating on simply crossing the finishing line for 2013, contemplating those challenges can seem daunting but I really took heart from the spirit shown at the Non Clinical Support Services blessing. The event filled me with a real sense of optimism, fun and joy for life. Thank you Team Counties for showing me your many and varied true colours. They are simply spectacular.