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The Queen joins Duchess of Cornwall for heartwarming call to volunteers

The royal ladies joined a call with the Royal Voluntary Service

Emily Nash

The Queen has hailed the "wonderful work" of volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic, thanking them for their "great, great help, over this very difficult year".

Nearly a year on from the UK's first national lockdown, Her Majesty joined the Duchess of Cornwall on a video call to Royal Voluntary Service chief executive Catherine Johnston and four RVS volunteers.

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WATCH: The Queen and Duchess of Cornwall join forces to thank volunteers

She told them: "Thank you very much indeed, very interesting to hear what you (have) been doing I think it's wonderful work and I do thank everybody for, and all the others too, who have been volunteering it’s been a great, great help, over this very difficult year. Very nice to meet you all."

The monarch, who is patron of the RVS, and Camilla, the charity's President, heard how more than a million new volunteers have signed up since last March, taking the organisation's total to 12.7million.

And a year on from the launch of the NHS Volunteer Responders, they heard how more than 1.6 million tasks have been carried out through the scheme including "Check in and Chat" calls, delivering food, picking up prescriptions and now assisting with the vaccination rollout.

The Duchess said: "Thank you all very much for all you’ve done throughout the year, throughout the pandemic. We couldn't have done it without you."

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The royal ladies praised the work of volunteers

The royal women spoke to retired police officer Tracy Clarke in Gateshead, who has been working with the RVS's Gateshead Home Library Service getting books out to isolated people.

"Rather different work from the police I should think," said the Queen, adding: "Yes and books are very important to people."

The monarch smiled as Sue Cadwallader from Rothbury, Northumberland, told how she had become closer to her son Sam while volunteering together.

And she heard how Anderson Akponeware, from Middlesbrough, has made Check in and Chat calls while also studying for his PhD and home-schooling.

He said: "People have been living in their own small bubbles, and I wouldn’t have known how isolated those small bubbles could be until I took on this role."

The Queen asked: "You managed to find time between your studying and volunteering?"

Anderson explained how he shared everything with his wife. He added: "My wife and I try to think more about those in our community and all we can do to make their lives better."

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The Queen joined the Duchess of Cornwall for the call

Simon Holmes, from Stockton-On-Tees, said that accessing mental health support himself had encouraged him to sign-up to the RVS. He said: "I decided I wanted to do something – if I could give back just in a little way.

"The whole experience is very humbling."

Camilla herself has volunteered by making check in and chat calls to those in isolation, including Doris Winfield, 86, who sadly died in January.

After enjoying "lots of happy conversations" with Doris, the two women met in person at an RVS Lunch Club in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, in October.

Meanwhile the Duchess of Cambridge befriended Len Gardner, 85, from Batley, Yorkshire, while the Countess of Wessex has been speaking to Edna Farley, 89, from Liverpool through the Check in and Chat scheme.

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