The Guild of Health and St Raphael is an ecumenical, inclusive and prayerful organisation working locally and nationally in the Christian healing ministry. Taking theology seriously, we reach out to both policy makers and those on the ground to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ for healing and healthy living. Working with key partners and through publications and events, we aim to be the premier academic point of contact for science, religion and healing, whilst also providing resources for individual and parish based healing ministry.


The Guild of Health and St Raphael, as it is known today, was formed in 1904 to bring together members of the clergy and medical professions together to study and promote the healing ministry of the Church. It is the oldest organisation in the UK working in the field of Christian healing. In 1915, the Guild of St Raphael broke away and dedicated itself to promoting and practicing Christ’s ministry of healing as an integral part of the life and worship of the Church. The Guilds reunited in 2014 bringing back together both the professional and sacramental, and continues today to be at the forefront of engagement with the professional and academic world, as well as supporting individuals and parishes in local expressions of this work.


The Revd Lucyann Ashdown

Lucyann is currently the Spiritual Care Co-Ordinator at Farleigh Hospice in Mid Essex. She has spent most of her career in health care, training as a registered general nurse at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. During this time she became interested in women’s health and went onto do her Midwifery training at The Royal London because of its reputation for feminist social justice. In1989 she became an Independent Midwife specialising in home birth across London. Alongside this Lucyann facilitated antenatal groups in the NHS in Tower Hamlets, taught pre and post registration midwives, held workshops for prospective Independent Midwives and gained a degree in Social Anthropology.

In 2003 Lucyann became a senior lecturer in Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University until she was ordained in 2008 and has continued to teach about Spirituality and health at the pivotal moments of birth and death.

More recently, following a decade of offering supportive supervision to the London Birth Practice and because of her passion for supporting professionals by offering them a compassionate space to explore and reflect on their work; she decided to train as a supervisor at The Centre for Supervision and Team Development (CSTD) in Bath.

Lucyann is particularly interested in the way we experience God in times of struggle and absence, encountered as we traverse the terrains of birth, death, ill health and childlessness.

Lucyann became Chair of trustees in Oct 2014.

Dr. David McDonald

After qualifying as a medical doctor, preparation for an intended career in general practice included a post in psychiatry – and I stayed: It was so interesting and rewarding. My forensic work in prisons and secure units revealed that mentally unwell adults were actually disturbed children; the majority of adults with psychiatric disorder have a history of symptoms starting in early life. This led me to further train as a child psychiatrist and thereafter as a family therapist and psychotherapist for individuals and groups. I came to see that adverse experiences in the early years carried a significant component of spiritual harm as well. As a consultant in NHS practice for over 30 years, involvement in the healing ministry of the Church, and a particular interest in the deliverance ministry, has given me a continuous role in training and support for clergy and pastoral teams.

Commonalities I found between psychology and theology in understanding dis-ease in individuals and society, I put to academic use in study for an MA in interreligious dialogue and an MSc in psychotherapy. I fully trust the potential for health and healing in communities that will lead us to total salvation through Christ’s ministry for all peoples.

Jim McManus

Jim McManus is Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire County Council, a Chartered Psychologist and Chartered Scientist and is a Health Foundation Generation Q Quality Improvement Fellow. He has degrees in theology, psychology and public health. He is visiting Professor at a number of institutions including LSE.

Jim was the founding Chair of the Health Psychology in Public Health Network, a national network whose purpose is interdisciplinary discussions across public health and psychology. He was recently listed in The Tablet’s 2017 list of 100 leading lay Catholics and in 2011 was awarded the Good Samaritan Medal for excellence in healthcare by Pope Benedict XVI, the highest honour for health work the Vatican can award.

He survived a Grade IV blood cancer and in his spare time enjoy music, reading and travel. Jim volunteers in his local parish church and is a member of the Secular Carmelite Order. He has always been interested in the links between theology and social sciences, and theology and health.

Dr. Michael Platt
Clinical Director

Dr Michael Platt graduated as a doctor from the medical school of the University of Western Australia in 1977. After training in pain medicine and anaesthesia in Perth, Australia and London.

He became Senior Lecturer in Anaesthesia at Imperial College and St Mary’s Hospital in 1991, and is now Consultant and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia at St Mary’s Hospital and Imperial College Faculty of Medicine, and is also Honorary Consultant in Palliative care for Kensington and Chelsea Primary Care Trust.

While working in this position, he studied for and was awarded an MA in Bioethics from Surrey University in 2005, with a special interest in end of life issues, particularly in pain medicine. His special interests are nerve pain and functional disability.

Ms. Mary Tschiersch
Intercession secretary

I joined the Guild in 1980 but it was not my first introduction to the healing ministry. I had been attending the Church – in Margaret Street, off Oxford Street – where a group met to pray, attend Eucharist and often there was ‘Christian teaching’. Through that group I was introduced to the healing aspect of Christ’s teaching, though I do not recall hearing at that time the phrase ‘healing ministry’. It was through that Church group that the introduction to the Guild came.
The Guild had its head office at Edward Wilson House in Suffolk Street, near Trafalgar Square at that time and I worked in a solicitors’ office in Westminster, so it was easy to pop in and I soon became a regular attender to the various meetings held there then. I very much valued the explanation and deeper knowledge about my faith which I was seeking. In fact it was a year or two later that I was received into the Anglican Church. Mrs Wendy Reid, the then Prayer & Care Secretary of the Guild, took me under her wing and eventually I was asked to join the Prayer & Care Committee. When Wendy retired some years later, I was given the job of Intercession Secretary

The Revd. Prof. Helen Leathard

The Reverend Professor Helen L Leathard BSc, MA, PhD, FBPhS is a retired academic pharmacologist whose interest in Christian healing developed after she moved from teaching medical students in London to nurses in Lancaster. Around the millennium, Helen was licensed as a C-of-E Reader, organised international conferences on Faith in Healing & Health Care Provision, became a Consultant to Holy Rood House Centre for Pastoral Care, a member of the Guild of St Raphael Council, and of the editorial board of Sacred Space/Spirituality & Health International. She directed and published evaluatory research into ‘healing by gentle touch’, a healing modality based on Christian meditative practice. As a member of the Bishop’s Healing Ministry Advisory Team she helped promote and develop healing ministry in Blackburn Diocese. She was editor-producer of Chrism and Guild News 2009-2015, and in ‘retirement’ was called to ordained ministry and serves in a multi-parish benefice near Lancaster.

Mr. David Sims

In the 60’s, I worked near the SPCK Bookshop in Great Peter Street, Westminster, where I came across the books on Prayer and on Healing in Christ written by Fr. Jim Wilson. I contacted him and he invited me to visit him; he directed me towards the Guild of Health in Queen Anne Street. Here I became a Guild Member and regular member of the Tuesday Evening Group, where we prayed for individual people and discussed subjects led by the Group Leader, Mrs. Wendy Reid and by Group members. I eventually became the Leader of this Group for many years, until I had to leave London through job redundancy.

My interest and involvement in the Christian Healing Ministry has continued ever since. I am authorized for healing prayer ministry in my home parish and I have been visiting people in local Care Homes for 30 years, where I meet residents with varying problems, including dementia. For many years, I have led a Bible Discussion Group in the parish, where I bring topics for discussion, often based on readings from the Bible Reading Fellowship Daylight Notes, and where we look at and consider the readings for the following Sunday services. I am also an Intercessor for the Guild and for the Canterbury Diocesan Centre for Healing and Wholeness at The Living Well.

Mr. Ken Herbert

The Director of the Guild of Health and St Raphael
The Revd. Dr. Gillian Straine

Gillian is passionately committed to health, healing and Christian living. She is a cancer survivor, Anglican priest, pastoral theologian and social media addict with a strong interest in communication and teaching. She has a doctorate in Physics from Imperial College London and an MA in Theology from the University of Oxford. She is particularly keen to bring the study of science into conversations about Christian healing. She is the author of Introducing Science and Religion: A path through polemic (SPCK, 2014), The Limits of Science? (CSP, 2017) and Cancer: A Pilgrim Companion (SPCK, 2017). She lives in London with her husband and two young children.


To meet our aims as a charity, we make active partnerships with a number of organisations. Through these partnerships, we seek to mutually support one another and to work together to bring different aspects of the healing ministry to the greatest possible audience. This is not a static list, and we are looking to the future of health and healing to seek new opportunities to grow and establish links with people and organisations who uphold good practice and an ethos in tune with our own.

The Guild offer professional membership to training colleges, retreat houses, professional organisations and other groups. There are several different options and pricing schemes. Please do get in touch if you are interested in discussing how best we can support your organisation.

Holy Rood House, Thirsk

events and welcome individuals for retreat, spiritual accompaniment and rest. There is strong focus on healing and they are specialised in dealing with trauma and loss. The Guild holds events in partnership with Holyrood and their director is the Northern representation for the Guild.

Holyrood House Website Link

St. Marylebone Parish Church

Within the church building, lie both an NHS GP service and The Healing and Counselling centre. There are regular healing services, and the Guild is pleased to partner with the organisation in a number of ways including events and teaching.

St. Marylebone Website
Healing & Council Website