The Duchess of Edinburgh visited Surrey yesterday for a day filled with visits to local charities.
Sophie visited organisations supporting children with learning disabilities, one of which was her patronage, Shooting Star.
The first visit on the Duchess’ agenda was to Artventure Trust, a charity that offers art sessions for adults with learning disabilities, autism and physical impairments. It was here that the Duchess met staff and volunteers of the charity, as well as spent time with learning disabled participants.
Sophie saw the exhibition in the studio which is currently displaying artworks which have been created by learning disabled artists. It is part of Surrey Artists’ Open Studios, where local artists open the door of their studios to the public.
The visit concluded with a presentation of a piece of artwork from the participants to the Royal, which took the form of a canvas with the portrait of the late Elizabeth II in a pop art style.
Artventure Trust said: ‘The recognition and the opportunity to meet HRH was an inspiration for the participants and the staff was proud to find that HRH appreciated their work and efforts’.
Duchess Sophie then headed to Christopher’s, a Shooting Star’s hospice in Guildford. She is Patron of Shooting Star Children’s Hospice, a role she has held for over 20 years; Sophie originally opened Christopher’s in 2022.
The Duchess of Edinburgh spent time with children and families supported by the charity and joined in with arts and crafts activities. She also visited the hospice garden to plant a tree to mark her visit.
Concluding her second engagement, The King’s sister-in-law was presented with a special piece of artwork that had been created by children that use the hospice.
Karen Sugarman MBE, Executive Vice-President at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices said: ‘It was an honour to welcome back our Royal Patron, The Duchess of Edinburgh and wonderful to see Her Royal Highness sharing so much time with our supported families.
‘The Duchess always takes the time to show so much compassion and kindness to everyone she meets at the charity and her visit today will make such precious memories for everyone here.’
Sophie has been seen on a number of occasions supporting Shooting Star, from celebrating Valentine’s Day at the Hampton hospice, to helping out in one of the organisation’s charity shops.
Her Royal Highness’ day in Surrey concluded with a visit to Royal Surrey County Hospital, where Sophie officially re-opened a new state-of-the art diagnostic wing. The wing has undergone a refurbishment where two state-of-the-art MRI scanners and four cutting-edge echocardiography machines have been installed.
This was the second visit for Sophie, although it had been a while – she first visited the same wing 18 years ago. Conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer are diagnosed at the unit.
Her Royal Highness also met patients, including eight-year-old Momen Mohammed who demonstrated to Sophie how younger patients are prepared for an MRI scan using a Lego model.
The Duchess saw how the echocardiography machines are used to scan a patient’s heart and nearby blood vessels.
The new equipment will be used to provide potentially life-saving screening for up to 10,000 patients a year, doubling its previous level.
Chief Executive, Louise Stead, said: ‘We were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh to re-open the HASTE Wing. It was a privilege to showcase the significant investment that the Trust has made to ensure that these two essential services are fit for the future.
‘The Duchess was able to see how each element of the refurbishment was centred around improving the experience of patients. We know from research that this can make a really big difference to how comfortable people feel coming into the unit and undergoing their procedures – particularly for our younger patients and those who may worry about feeling claustrophobic going into a scanner.’