The Countess of Wessex visited Birmingham this week to tour the new burns unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the city.
The Countess was greeted by Iraq war veteran Karl Hinett, who recently won the Pride of Birmingham Award. He then went on to show Sophie around the centre.
The Healing Foundation Centre for Burns Research will study how patients’ bodies respond to burn injuries and will develop pioneering new treatments.
The Pride of Birmingham winner, Karl, was trapped in a blazing armoured car after it was petrol-bombed in Iraq. He suffered horrific injuries as he forced his way out of the burning inferno, his body set alight with flames.
Mr Hinett suffered 37 per cent burns on his body as a result of the incident. Since then he has undergone countless operations, climbed Mount Everest and has even run 129 marathons, raising more than £50,000 for the Birmingham based burns unit!
“Coming here is like coming back home,” the 27 year old told The Birmingham Mail.
“This hospital gave me the inspiration to live my life with burns and I have been raising funds for it ever since. It’s a really big deal to see the opening of this new research centre. Seeing the advances in burns research and how quickly it’s moving is just brilliant.”
Later on in the day the Countess travelled to Staffordshire, where she unveiled the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps memorial and met veterans.
The memorial was a bronze sculpture which was dedicated to those who served in the Women’s Land Army.