Sophie, Countess of Wessex visited Staffordshire yesterday on a series of engagements, including Royal Stoke University Hospital and the local Asperger Autism Association.
The Countess first visited Action for Blind People, a charity which provides emotional support to partially sighted and blind people. The charity was established in 1857 as the Surrey Association for the General Welfare of the Blind. Sophie seemed interested by the different guide dogs at the event, and was seen crouching down to pet the dogs.
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After this, the Countess made a stop at Royal Stoke University Hospital. The hospital is one of the largest in the UK, with over 6000 members of staff. Here, Sophie had the chance to meet families who use the Children’s Centre and met orthopaedic patients on Ward 225. Sophie then had lunch with six award winners, chosen for their work across the North Midlands NHS Trust in 2016.
12-year-old, Ateeqa Sajed passed a bouquet of flowers to the Countess, upon her arrival. Attica has been a patient for eight years, battling a muscle and skin disease. She said, “I have been really happy since I found out I was going to be greeting the Royal visitor and it felt really nice.”
Sophie was seen complimenting the girl’s henna as she received her flowers.
Her father, proudly watched his daughter curtsy and stated, “We got the call on Tuesday to say that Ateeqa had been chosen and she has been excited since then. She has been so excited running around choosing her outfit and preparing for this to make sure everything is right.”
The Countess concluded the visit by unveiling a plaque before 150 staff from across the Trust.
Chairman of the University Hospitals of North Midlands, John MacDonald said, “I would like to sincerely thank Her Royal Highness for visiting us. This visit has been a great privilege for all of our staff across both Royal Stoke and at County Hospital. Our staff do a marvellous job with care, compassion and professionalism, which I hope we have demonstrated today.”
To conclude a busy day of engagements, Sophie visited the North Staffordshire Asperger Autism Association, at Keele University. The charity was established in 2002, and provides support and advice to families with children on the Autism spectrum. The Countess participated in an art and crafts session with the children.