STAFF across a hospital trust have been saying farewell to a long-serving chairman who is stepping down at the end of December.

Elizabeth Padmore has been chair of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for nine years, the maximum term she can serve in the posting.

Liz started as chair of Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust in 2010 before being part of the team which created Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in January 2012.

Among her achievements during her leadership was being named winner of the Sunday Times Public Sector Non-Executive Director of the Year Award in 2013.

Liz said: “I have genuinely enjoyed my nine years as chairman and it is with a heavy heart that I step away from an organisation that means so much to me.

“I will particularly miss our wonderful staff, who do such a great job, day in, day out, caring for patients across our hospitals. I would like to thank them all, and my colleagues on the board of directors and those on the council of governors, both past and present, for making my time at the trust so enjoyable.

“It has been an honour and a pleasure to be your chairman.”

The trust runs hospitals in Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester.

Hampshire Hospitals chief executive Alex Whitfield said staff saying their farewells over the last few months have all been “emotional occasions” as colleagues held the chair in high regard.

She added: “Liz’s departure will be a huge wrench for us as she is so much a part of our trust.”

The council of governors unanimously agreed to the appointment of Steve Erskine as Liz’s successor, and he will take over the role in January.

Steve is currently chairman at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.