Today, The Duchess of Edinburgh visited The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, where she officially opened the groundbreaking Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre.
The new £6 million centre near Oswestry, Shropshire, began to see patients in November 2022, but Sophie’s visit today formally marked the centre’s opening.
Headley Court provides a dedicated Veterans’ Hub to support veteran patients, and their family and friends, with issues that range from homelessness, finance, debt management, welfare, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), benefits and more.
The mother-of-two met staff and patients at the centre, where she was also given a tour of the new facilities. The Duchess toured the examination and clinic rooms, an enhanced treatment room for minor outpatient procedures, an assessment room, a splinting and therapy room, and a clinic space for virtual appointments.
Throughout the visit, Sophie heard more about the work they are doing to assist veterans and their families.
For some military personnel, their career ends with injury in the line of duty, while for others, they struggle with the transition back to civilian life.
Her Royal Highness unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening, making it the first plaque that bears Sophie’s new title, since The King made her and her husband, The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh on Edward’s 59th birthday.
Headley Court was the leading medical rehabilitation base for members of the Armed Forces, based in Surrey, before the transfer of those services to a new facility at Stanford Hall, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre in Loughborough.
As a result, the Headley Court Charity were looking for causes in keeping with their ethos and aims to support in the form of charitable grants. Following the grants, it was decided the new facility will be known as the Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre.
The orthopaedic hospital also received support from groups and individuals, including regimental associations, former patients, the Orthopaedic Institute and the League of Friends.
Stacey Keegan, Chief Executive of the hospital, said: ‘It couldn’t have been better, the sun is shining and there are lots of people here, including our own staff who are celebrating our huge achievement to create this hospital.
‘A royal visit is nothing short of the ‘cherry on top’ for the amount of work we’ve done. We’re so proud of that, and the military connections that we have too.’
Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, who launched the Veterans’ Orthopaedic Service back in 2014, said: ‘The official opening of the Headley Court Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre is a day I have long dreamt about, even before our fundraising appeal launched in October 2018.
‘For a number of years, we have talked about veterans being seen in an environment that brings comfort to them and by clinical teams that have an understanding of military personnel and their unique needs. This is now reality, which marks the beginning of a new era of bespoke care for our veteran patients and members of the Armed Forces.
‘Thank you to HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh for visiting the Veterans’ Centre and learning more about the work we do here.’
The Duchess has a keen interest in the welfare of veterans and soldiers. She holds a number on honorary military titles including Royal Honorary Colonel of 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 Rifles), Colonel-in-Chief of the Corps of Army Music, Colonel-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, and Colonel-in-Chief of The Lincoln and Welland Regiment.