12th June 2023 | Royal Visits to Surrey

HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh visits Surrey

The Duchess of Edinburgh was in Surrey, where she visited Artventure Trust in Guildford, which is a charity that supports adults with learning disabilities, physical impairments, or autism to be creative, have fun, and make new friends in a safe and sociable environment. The Duchess met the staff and volunteers of the charity and spent time with the learning disabled participants, before joining in with an art activity creating a plaster relief using nature’s treasures and a clay mound.

The Duchess then visited the currently running exhibition in the studio that displays more than a hundred artworks all created by learning disabled artists. The exhibition is part of Surrey Artists’ Open Studios, a Surrey wide art event where local artists open the door of their studios to the general public.

Artventure participants presented a collaborative piece to HRH – an impressive canvas with the portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II in a pop art style, they created earlier.

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.

Artventure offers visual art sessions for adults with learning disabilities, autism and physical impairments in a safe and fun environment. It operates in Merrow in Guildford and receiving participants from all over Surrey since 1984.

Her Royal Highness, in her role as Patron, then visited Shooting Star Children’s Hospice.

The Duchess, who is Patron of the charity, visited their Surrey hospice, Christopher’s in Guildford. The hospice supports children, young people and their families with respite stays, symptom management, and end-of-life care, as well as a comprehensive range of therapies, and is one of two hospices run by Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.
The leading children’s hospice charity supports 700 families who have a baby, child or young adult with a life-limiting condition or who have been bereaved across west London and Surrey.

The Duchess spent time talking to children and families supported by the charity and joined children in some arts and crafts activities. The Duchess, who officially opened Christopher’s in 2002, also visited the hospice garden to plant a special tree to mark her visit.

Before departing, The Duchess was presented with a special canvas which had been created by children that use the hospice.

The Duchess has supported Shooting Star Children’s Hospices for over 20 years, most recently visiting their west London hospice, Shooting Star House, based in Hampton in 2022 and volunteered her time, helping staff and volunteers at two of their charity shops in Weybridge and Hampton Hill in 2020.

HRH then opened the newly re-opened the newly-renovated Haste Wing at the Royal Surrey County Hospital.

This was a return visit for Her Royal Highness who had opened the same wing, which is used for diagnosing conditions from heart disease to cancer, 18 years ago.

The Trust’s HASTE Wing has undergone a significant refurbishment that has seen the organisation invest in two state-of-the-art MRI scanners and four cutting edge echocardiography machines.

The Duchess was shown around by Royal Surrey Chief Executive, Louise Stead, and Chair, Joss Bigmore.

As well as meeting a number of staff, The Duchess also met patients, including eight-year-old Momen Mohammed who demonstrated how our youngest patients are prepared for an MRI scan using a Lego model.

The new MRI scanners can be used to examine almost any part of the body including: the brain and spinal cord, bones and joints, breasts, heart and blood vessels, as well as internal organs, such as the liver, uterus or prostate gland.

They feature artificial intelligence technology, which reduces scan times by 30 per cent and are also more spacious for patients inside the scanner.

The refurbishment has also made significant improvements to the patient experience, with short relaxing films available to watch during scans as well as soothing light displays.

One of the key benefits is that very young children are able to undergo scans in as little as 30 seconds whilst watching their favourite film and without the need for a general anaesthetic.

The Duchess also 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. This is up from 5,000 previously.

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.”


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