The Queen visits Cambridge’s Royal Papworth Hospital
‘It was a magical day!” That was the verdict of the Royal Papworth Hospital chief executive Stephen Posey after Her Majesty the Queen officially opened the building, met staff and patients and set royal fans cheering as she appeared outside the front doors.
The Queen’s visit on Tuesday (July 9) began with a morning at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) in Histon, before a trip to Queens’ College, which included lunch, and finally a tour of the Royal Papworth Hospital, where she unveiled a plaque commemorating the opening of the site.
Mr Posey said: “It has been magical, actually. We know that Her Majesty doesn’t do too many of these official visits and openings now, understandably, and the fact that she made time in her busy schedule to visit Royal Papworth is incredible and more than we could have hoped for.
“We had a line of staff to meet Her Majesty and they burst into a round of applause and lots of our teams in the clinical areas met her, but there were lots of teams coming out into the corridors to greet her. It really made the Queen smile.
“She was very well informed and open in her questions and very keen to hear from staff what it is like to work at Royal Papworth.
“She seemed impressed at the facilities and team work and at how friendly we are. I think that is what we are known for at Royal Papworth, and it was nice for Her Majesty to see that and comment on that.”
Staff and schoolchildren from three primary schools – Trumpington Park Primary School, Pendragon Community Primary School in Papworth Everard and Stukeley Meadows in Huntingdon – greeted the Queen as she arrived at the hospital on Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
Her Majesty was accompanied by the Duchess of Gloucester.
The duchess, who is patron of the hospital, greeted Her Majesty, cheered on by the schoolchildren.
Mr Posey added: “The children gave her some posies of flowers. I heard one little boy say he shared a birthday with Her Majesty and she thought that was most interesting.”
During her tour the Queen met with staff and patients, as well as seeing some of the state-of-the-art facilities at the world-leading heart and lung hospital including the catheter labs where patients suffering a heart attack are treated, as well as the bronchoscopy room and critical care.
Professor John Wallwork, chairman of Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It was fabulous, wasn’t it? As they say up north, it was a right royal occasion.
“It was just a delight, after putting all the hard work and effort into moving the hospital, then being called a royal hospital and getting Her Majesty the Queen to open it – you can’t get any higher accolade than that.
“There was a real buzz here – the staff were a delight to watch. Everyone was happy and clapping – it was just a wonderful atmosphere.”
Royal Papworth Hospital patient Yasmin Swift was introduced to the Queen during the visit.
Yasmin, 20, who underwent a double lung transplant in February this year, said: “It was incredible. A really nice experience. I found out about a month ago that I was meeting the Queen and my nerves have been really high before today, but I was most nervous when she was in the room.
“She was really nice, though, and she asked me what transplant I’d had, how my recovery was going and what I’m able to do now.
“I spoke to her about how I’m now able to do yoga classes and go for long walks, which was a real struggle previously before. My recovery is going really well so far I haven’t had any problems yet.”
Meanwhile lead bronchoscopy nurse Ana Faustino said she had been “overwhelmed” by meeting the Queen.
“It has been very exciting. She came into our unit and just asked us a few questions about the different roles we have, the specialities we work in and how varied it is. She was very interested and it sounded like she did some homework because she asked really good questions. I was very impressed,” said Ana.
At the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) the Queen was met by the mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Gerri Bird, as well as the Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway, and Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite.
She toured an exhibition that celebrated 100 years of crop research and then took part in a tree planting ceremony, wielding the spade herself to plant a hornbeam tree.
She was following in the footsteps of King George V and Queen Mary, who were the first members of the royal family to visit the institute in 1921, when Queen Mary planted a mulberry tree.
The Queen was presented with a bowl created from part of the tree planted by Queen Mary.
NIAB is one of Britain’s oldest, and fastest growing, crop science research centres.
The National Institute of Agricultural Botany, as it was originally known, was founded in 1919 as a charitable trust.
Then she moved on to Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge, where she met staff
and graduates before dining in the Old Hall.
The Queen heard a speech from Lord Eatwell, president of Queens’ College, and was served a lunch of Pinneys of Orford oak smoked salmon, horseradish crème fraiche, caper berries, pickled shallots and a herb salad.
Afterwards, there was Fairtrade coffee and chocolates.