The Earl and Countess of Wessex paid a visit to the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance service base on Tuesday, where they met representatives from the local NHS, council and emergency services staff and service personnel in the region to thank them for all their work during the pandemic.
The couple toured the new the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance service airbase, where they had the opportunity to meet some of the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance service critical care team, as well as charity staff and volunteers.
The Earl and Countess took the opportunity to stop and speak to individuals and thank them for the work they do.
During the visit, Edward and Sophie heard about the ambulance service plans for the future and a ‘Centre for Excellence’. It would see the charity push the boundaries in innovation, research and education in the advancement of pre-hospital care.
The Royals spoke to patients who had previously been air lifted and their families to hear first-hand about their experiences with Essex and Herts Air Ambulance service.
The visit took place at the front of the building where people had gathered representing the emergency services and voluntary support organisations, together with the members of the armed forces and EHAAT staff and volunteers.
Jane Gurney was delighted that Sophie and Edward had visited saying: “This is a real milestone in our charity’s history, as it is the first time that Essex and Herts Air Ambulance has hosted a royal visit. It was a fantastic opportunity to bring together all of the organisations who have worked so hard during these challenging times of the pandemic.
“I am truly honoured that we have been able to showcase our new airbase at North Weald and share our vision for a Centre for Excellence that will continue to develop pre-hospital care into the future.”
Chair of Trustees at EHAAT, Jonathan Trower, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have welcomed Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex to our new airbase in North Weald, and we are very grateful for their interest and support for our charity.
“We were able to show them our outstanding new facilities for our team and to discuss our exciting plans for the further development of our emergency medical services across Essex and Hertfordshire.”
The Air Ambulance service means a great deal to the Wessexes as it was a service that saved Sophie’s life in 2001. The Countsess suffered an ectopic pregnancy nearly 20 years ago, and she was airlifted by Thames Valley Air Ambulance from her Bagshot Park home, near Windsor, to central London for treatment, which of course she remembers clearly.
The Royal underwent a two-and-a-half-hour operation, losing the baby.
In 2020, she helped celebrate 21 years of TVAA and got to meet crew members, as well as other former patients at the Maidenhead airfield. Sophie became their Patron in 2019.