The Duchess of Cornwall has suggested she is looking forward to being reunited with her grandchildren as she thanked volunteers for supporting the vaccine rollout.
Camilla, who is president of the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), chatted to helpers who have given up their free time and to medical staff as she toured the capital’s largest inoculation centre in Wembley.
During the visit the duchess, who has been vaccinated, shared words of encouragement with those waiting for their jabs: “It feels like the first step of freedom, I certainly felt like that.”
The duchess thanked the volunteers who signed up to become NHS Volunteer Responder stewards supporting the UK vaccination rollout.
The visit comes as the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme, delivered by the RVS and the GoodSAM app, announced that its helpers had answered more than 1.5 million requests throughout the pandemic.
This includes shopping and prescription collection, transport to and from vital medical appointments and stewarding at vaccination sites.
Those giving up their free time also provide “check in and chat calls” for those who are self-isolating, vulnerable or elderly.
The duchess also thanked Pippa Nightingale, chief nursing officer for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust which leads the North West London vaccination programme, for their swift rollout of vaccines to millions of people in the highest priority groups since December.
When she met staff, Camilla also said “No other country does it better”.
Lucy Hubbard, a professional singer who has been volunteering at the Wembley centre since January, spoke to the duchess as she toured the site.
Mrs Hubbard, 32, said: “She asked me what I did and where I was volunteering and how it was going – we just had a nice chat.
“It’s been great to be part of something interesting and not sitting at home doing nothing.
“I get to contribute to society and be part of the solution.”
Helpers have been working at Wembley since it opened five weeks ago and more than 16,000 people have been vaccinate by staff from London North West University Healthcare and Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trusts.
Sam Ward, deputy chief executive officer of the RVS, welcomed the duchess’ visit and said: “Each and every volunteer who stepped forward to support the NHS and their community is a hero in my eyes.
“We truly appreciate the continued efforts of our volunteers during the pandemic and as the vaccination programme moves forward.”