On Thursday 18 March, Transform’s Director of Client Services Adele Duncan received a very exciting invitation from Lord Lieutenant of Surrey Michael More-Molyneux – who is also a Transform patron. The invite was to a Zoom meeting with the Lord Lieutenant and a special VIP guest.
The online event was held to thank members of local communities, statutory agencies, the NHS and others in Surrey for all the work carried out during the pandemic to keep people safe. Special mention was also made about the success of the roll-out of the vaccination programme.
Adele was surprised and delighted to discover there were 70+ people on the Zoom call and The VIP guest was none other than Transform's royal Patron HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex and her husband HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. The zoom call took place during a visit by the Royal couple to Surrey’s temporary community hospital at Headley Court which was opened in June as a result of the joint partnership between the NHS and Surrey’s Local Resilience Forum (SLRF) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their Royal Highnesses were welcomed to the NHS Seacole Centre, a former military hospital, by the Chair of SLRF Steve Owen-Hughes, Director of NHS Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Elaine Newton and landowner of Headley Court Tony Williamson.
The royal couple praised and thanked staff and volunteers for their hard work on the frontline during the pandemic. There were also contributions from several local organisations working in Surrey covering a range of services, including the programme director for vaccinations in Surrey who said that 50% of the Surrey population had now been vaccinated.
After taking part in the Zoom call, Adele Duncan said: “It was really humbling to hear all of the positive partnership working throughout Surrey and I wished I had the chance to say how amazing all our colleagues have been during this time.”
Final words went of course to Prince Edward and the Countess. Prince Edward said: “thank you all so much, we appreciate all that you have all been doing for the last 12 months – a long 12 months. It's been fantastic to watch how great the partnerships have been during this time and the depth of support and collaboration there has been. We know we are all feeling a bit tired now – we will win in this though.”
The Countess agreed and said: “I know a number of your services will continue to be needed once the fall-out of the pandemic is clearer, furlough has stopped and people find themselves out of a job. Foodbanks will also have a further demand on them – nobody should go hungry in this country and I am proud of all our local communities."
Speaking following the visit, Steve Owen-Hughes said: “The Earl and Countess of Wessex have been involved throughout our journey of responding to the pandemic here in Surrey. They have undertaken a number of visits and calls, joining us and our frontline teams both in person and online for meetings to understand how we are responding and providing support. Visits like this are not only a great opportunity to update Their Royal Highnesses, but they’re also a tremendous morale boost for our teams who continue to work hard to keep people safe.
“SLRF is made up of Surrey’s emergency services and other public sector organisations, the voluntary sector and the military when required – planning and coordinating the efforts of organisations to respond whenever there is a local or national crisis.