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13 July 2018

SNBTS Donor Carer meets HRH Prince William

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Evelyn Wood met the Earl of Strathearn at an event organised to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS.

Lynne Willdigg (SNBTS, Associate Director Donor and Transport Services) was very proud to nominate Evelyn, and she was amongst 700 guests who were invited to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on Thursday 5th July.

Having worked for SNBTS for 27 years (with no days off work due to illness), Evelyn is a valued member of the Aberdeen Collection Team. In her own words, she shares her thoughts of this exciting day.

Happy 70th Birthday NHS. 

"It isn’t often that an exciting piece of mail comes my way, but a recent letter caught me by surprise. I had to read it twice before believing the contents. I was nominated to attend an event in Edinburgh to celebrate 70 years of NHS. A member of the Royal Family was to attend. Details of dress code were included and an invitation was to follow early the following week.

"A week before the event, the invitation arrived together with another letter. This one had to be read more than once too. I wasn’t just to be part of a large company, but I was to be part of a small group who would meet the member of the Royal Family as well as our First Minister. This was unbelievable! Who had nominated me? Why me - a donor carer for SNBTS? I tried to answer my questions. At 80 years old, I must be one of the oldest members of staff working for blood transfusion. In 27 years I haven’t missed a day, but did that justify being selected for meeting a member of the Royal Family?

"I couldn’t refuse such an honour, so I emailed my acceptance straight away to make sure that it was all for real. A return email informed me that HRH Prince William would attend and with this confirmation, I could now talk about it. I was able to tell the colleagues that I worked with on the days leading up to the 5th July.

"My husband George and I set off in the morning so that we could enjoy a few hours in Edinburgh before the appointed meeting time. A large crowd assembled outside the doors of The Museum for Scotland, but when I showed my letter I was accompanied up to the grand gallery. There I was told that I was in Group 1. This meant nothing to me until I realised that I was one of only four people at that table, one of whom was Kit Reid who had been a nurse when NHS was 'born'. Our host was Jeane Freeman, our newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport. Drinks and canapés were passed around; people came to talk to us as the gallery space filled with guests. We were briefed on how to address HRH and assured that if we didn’t get it right, he wouldn’t mind. An air of informality and friendliness prevailed.

SNBTS Donor Carer Evelyn Wood chats to HRH The Earl of Strathearn
SNBTS Donor Carer Evelyn Wood chats to HRH The Earl of Strathearn

"There were short speeches, two videos and the NHS choir performed a beautiful rendition of ‘You Raise Me Up’. We all joined them in singing ‘Happy Birthday Dear NHS’. As well as HRH, there appeared a barrage of large cameras.  They were too near me for comfort and I remained seated, partly to be out of their way and partly to keep company my fellow table guest who had difficulty standing. One by one, we four were taken to talk to HRH. Kit was first, Margaret, a district nurse was second and my turn was next. What did it feel like to talk to a member of our Royal Family? Somehow, Prince William was able to put us at ease. He made it easy for us to be natural – as he was. He asked about the role that we played in NHS and appeared to be interested. There was no need to feel in awe of him, but it was a very special moment. At other tables, he spoke to guests in small groups.

"Meeting Nicola Sturgeon was another honour and she was happy to pose for photographs. I doubt if I will ever again be in the presence of such distinguished people. I enjoyed my Cinderella moment and thank you for my nomination. The evening passed in a flash, but the memory will last."

Huge congratulations to our dear colleague Evelyn from all at SNBTS.

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