‘She lit up the room’ – nurse recalls effect of the Queen’s visit

One of the Queen’s final public engagements was a visit to a Windsor hospice, where one nurse recalls how she gave hope to patients and raised staff morale

The Queen speaking to staff when she opened a new facility at a Windsor hospice

‘An uplifting and positive experience… she lit up the room’ – this is how nurses and patients at a Windsor hospice remember the Queen after she visited them on one of her last public engagements.

Clinical nurse specialist Julie Harley was on duty the day the Queen paid a visit in July. She said the ‘truly amazing’ day is a memory she will treasure forever, following the Queen’s death last week.

The Queen at a Windsor hospice

‘It was truly an amazing day. She was so lovely and made me feel completely at ease – with her wonderful smile, she lit up the room. I feel incredibly privileged to have met Her Majesty,’ Ms Harley told Nursing Standard.

‘The atmosphere was electric and full of positivity.’

The Queen opened a new 28-bed facility run by Thames Hospice on 15 July, one of her last public engagements. During her visit to the facility by Bray Lake in Windsor she met nurses, volunteers and supporters as well as patients.

Ms Harley said the visit was significant to staff and patients and will be a treasured memory for them. ‘For patients, she gave great hope and positivity, it was such an uplifting and heart-warming experience,’ she said.

The Queen’s support of the charity went back decades

‘For staff, after a difficult two years with COVID , it boosted our morale and made us feel incredibly valued and privileged. The whole workforce felt elated.’

The Queen’s support of the charity went back decades. She first opened a Thames Hospice in November 1987, and July marked her fourth visit to the charity.

Clinical nurse specialist Julie Harley (left) meeting the Queen
Clinical nurse specialist Julie Harley (left) meeting the Queen

During the royal visit, the Queen officially unveiled a plaque to celebrate the opening of the new hospice. The plaque is permanently mounted at the heart of the hospice to mark her long-term support of the charity, which provides support to more than 850 people.

The Queen chats with a patient at the hospice

Chief executive Debbie Raven said at the time: ‘It was a delight to welcome Her Royal Highness to Thames Hospice. We are so grateful that she took the time to speak to a number of patients, as well as many colleagues in our front-line teams.

‘Our official opening marks the start of an exciting new era for Thames Hospice and our facility will continue to offer vital support to everyone who needs palliative and end of life care now and for generations to come.’

The charity has undertaken a five-year expansion plan in a bid to provide more care to the community. In 2017 it received planning permission to build a £22 million facility on a site by Bray Lake, which opened its doors to patients in October 2020.

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