Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, spent the morning volunteering for NHS voluntary group ‘Nourish our Nurses’ and meeting nurses and midwives at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey on Tuesday 12th May to mark International Nurses Day. The day coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale on 12th May 1820.
‘Nourish our Nurses’ was founded by Jo-Ann Airikkala and comprises a small team of sixteen volunteers who have undertaken a supreme fundraising effort to raise over £45k; £29k via their GoFundMe page and a further £17k from Virgin Radio’s NHS Auction.
Jo-Ann explains: “I was inspired to establish ‘Nourish our Nurses’ by a childhood friend who is a nurse in Edinburgh. Seeing the panic buying and empty supermarket shelves really got me thinking about our frontline NHS heroes. Those working flat out to care for patients deserve to be looked after and provided with the ingredients for a healthy, hearty meal.
I joined forces with Debi Peppin and other amazing volunteers to begin packing and delivering food bags to hospital, ambulance and community healthcare staff. We buy all the produce fresh from the market twice a week at 4.30am and to date have delivered a total of 2800 bags over the past seven weeks. We also contain a recipe idea in each bag to provide inspiration which one nurse described as a ‘genius idea’.”
The Countess joined the team to help pack and deliver 200 bags to St Peter’s Hospital. Each week the bags are distributed to different hospital teams – today, being International Nurses Day, they have gone to nurses and midwives on several wards.
Some lucky nurses and midwives found more than just food in their bags as The Countess placed golden envelopes with extra treats donated by local businesses. These included a Champagne Afternoon Tea at The Runnymede Hotel, £50 voucher donated by Youngs, Afternoon Tea at Langtons, Audley Village, beauty treatment vouchers from Heaven at Number 7, a Hamper from Windsor Farm Shop and Vouchers from Tesco, Amazon & Costa Coffee.
During her visit The Countess met with Andy Field, Chairman and Andrea Lewis, Interim Chief Nurse, at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital, along with nurses and midwives from different wards across the Trust including critical care.
Andy Field said: “It was an honour to meet The Countess today and we would like to thank her for taking the time to join ‘Nourish our Nurses’ and visit St Peter’s. It was a real treat for some of our hard-working nurses and midwives to meet The Countess and receive their food bags and golden envelopes. I would also like to thank ‘Nourish our Nurses’ for their incredible and unwavering support in recent weeks. Their kind donations are making a big difference to our hard-working and dedicated staff.”
Andrea added: “The last few weeks have been really challenging and we know that is likely to continue for some time, but the support we’ve received from the local community and groups such as ‘Nourish our Nurses’ has been amazing. I would really like to thank Jo-Ann, Debi and all the volunteers who are working so hard to help us – we have been blown away by their kindness and commitment.”