It was extremely sad to learn of the death, shortly before Christmas, of Hilda Johnson - a true friend to Combined.

For many years, no Trust Board meeting was complete without the attendance and contribution from the public audience of Hilda.

One of the original founder members of our Service User and Carer Council, and a passionate and hugely knowledgeable service user advocate, Hilda always brought experience, insight, positive challenge and human warmth to our proceedings.

She was always to be seen at Service User consultation and engagement events, as well as our annual REACH Awards and she was a true friend to Combined.

For many years, Hilda was based at Harplands Hospital two days a week in her role for North Staffs User Group two days a week. She attended Trust Board meetings regularly and when necessary would ask challenging questions but always be supportive and give praise where praise was due.

She was well known throughout the Trust both by community and inpatient staff as well as service users and carers for her commitment to improving services.

Hilda continued this commitment even after NSUG was closed. She became a proactive member of Stoke Healthwatch and sat on the Board there where she continued to champion the rights for the support and appropriate services for people who experience poor Mental Health.

If there was ever a living embodiment of our Trust values of being Compassionate, Approachable, Responsible and Excellent, it was Hilda. She truly was outstanding in all she did and how she did it.  Combined Healthcare will be immeasurably poorer with her loss to us.

We mourn her passing and pass on our heartfelt condolences, as well as our gratitude for the privilege of knowing her, to her friends, family and loved ones