Royal praise for 'devoted' nurses attending reception at Buckingham Palace

The Prince of Wales praised the 'endless care and devotion' of nurses at a special reception for the profession at Buckingham Palace last night

The Prince of Wales praised the 'endless care and devotion' of nurses at a special reception for the profession at Buckingham Palace last night

RCN Nurse of the Year 2017, Melanie Davies (left) with Prince Charles. Picture: PA Images 

More than 350 nurses and midwives, including RCNi Nurse Awards winners, from across the UK were invited to the event to celebrate their contributions to healthcare.

Prince Charles and the Countess of Wessex hosted the evening on behalf of the Queen, meeting with representatives from mental health, acute care, community services, the charity sector and others. Guests also included first responders to last year's terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire.

‘Exceptional contributions’

In a speech the Prince of Wales said the hour and a half reception had been called to pay a ‘very special tribute’ to nurses who had made ‘exceptional contributions’ in their varying fields.

The prince joked that 1948 was a ‘good vintage’ – the year of his birth and the creation of the NHS.

‘But I just wanted you to know, above all else, before you go home or you stay in London and have a well-deserved night out, that thank god, ladies and gentlemen, that there are truly wonderful people like all of you, here this evening,’ he said.

‘Your endless care and devotion is not taken for granted so thank you more than I can say for the difference you make to this nation, thank you.’

The Prince of Wales has a keen interest in healthcare and is patron of Macmillan Cancer Care, Marie Curie and The British Red Cross.

The Countess of Wessex, Sophie, is patron of The Nursing Memorial Appeal and Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.

'Nice to be acknowledged'

Among the nurses in attendance was RCNi Awards 2017 overall winner and RCN Nurse of the Year 2017 Melanie Davies, of Swansea, who said: 'Nursing is always in the headlines for the pay, or lack of, so it's just nice to be acknowledged we are doing a great job.'

Another RCNi Award 2017 winner, Zoe Butler, who won the Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award, had the chance to speak directly with the prince.

She said: 'It is humbling to be here – and quite bizarre. I have only been a nurse for six months, so to be asked to come to the palace was amazing.

'It is really nice they are bringing the younger generation to the event tonight, especially with the recruitment issues nursing is facing.'

The prince with RCN director of nursing, policy and practice Donna Kinnair.
Picture: PA Images

The prince discussed with the newly-qualified nurse why fewer young people are applying to join the profession, a trend she said she is actively hoping to reverse.

Palace vision

Another guest, care home nurse Josie Barcial from Oxfordshire, had a particular reason to be excited at the event.

She said: 'When I first wanted to come to the UK to be a nurse, the interviewer asked me why I wanted to come to this country and work.

'I told him it was because I wanted to see Buckingham Palace! And here I am this evening. I can't quite believe it.'

Other guests included RCN director of nursing, policy and practice Dame Donna Kinnair, the Queen's Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman and representatives from the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

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