Queen praises ‘wonderful work’ of NHS volunteers in video call

19 March 2021, 18:24

Her Majesty is Patron of the Royal Voluntary Service.
Her Majesty is Patron of the Royal Voluntary Service. Picture: Buckingham Palace

By Harriet Whitehead

The Queen and Duchess of Cornwall have thanked volunteers from the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) as the charity marks a year since the launch of the NHS Volunteer Responders Scheme.

The RVS has been helping mobilise volunteers since the outbreak of Covid-19, recruiting almost 1 million volunteers since the pandemic began.

Camilla and the monarch are President and Patron of the Royal Voluntary Service respectively.

Praising the work of the 12.7 million people in the UK who have stepped forward to volunteer since March last year, the Queen said: “I think it’s wonderful work. Thank you to everybody - and all the others too who have been volunteering. It has been a great help.”

In March 2020, NHS England commissioned the RVS and GoodSAM to deliver the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme to support those in need.

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The Duchess of Cornwall said: “We couldn’t have done without you.”
The Duchess of Cornwall said: “We couldn’t have done without you.”. Picture: Buckingham Palace

More than 1.6 million tasks have been completed by NHS Volunteer Responders to date, from ‘Check in and Chat’ calls, to delivering prescriptions and food shopping to those unable to leave their homes. The scheme has also recently been extended to support the vaccination rollout.

The Royals heard from RVS volunteers Tracy and Sue and NHS Volunteer Responders Anderson and Simon about their experiences, before paying tribute to everyone across the UK who has given up their time to support their communities through the pandemic.

The Duchess of Cornwall said: “Thank you all very much for all you’ve done throughout the year, throughout the pandemic. We couldn’t have done without you.”

Tracy Clarke, a retired police officer, shared her experience of volunteering with the RVS’s Gateshead Home Library Service for the past three years.

In her role, Tracy delivers books monthly to people unable to get out to visit libraries, and described how the service has become even more of a lifeline during the pandemic for those who enjoy reading as a pastime.

Her Majesty acknowledged that the book delivery must have been “very helpful”, as “books are very important to people.”

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The video call comes after members of the Royal Familyjoined the ranks of NHS Volunteer Responders taking part in ‘Check in and Chat’ calls with people living alone or required to shield as a result of the pandemic.

The Duchess of Cornwall befriended 86 year-old Doris Winfield via the scheme. The Duchess accepted Mrs Winfield’s invitation to visit the Royal Voluntary Service Lunch Club in Rickmansworth last year where they were able to meet in person. Ahead of the call this week Her Royal Highness recalled how she had enjoyed ‘lots of happy conversations’ with Doris, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

The Duchess of Cambridge is in regular contact with Len Gardner, 85, having first spoken to Len in May last year through the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme. Her Royal Highness had the opportunity to meet Len in person last year during a visit to his hometown of Batley in Yorkshire, as part of the Royal Train Tour.