The Countess of Wessex has a new patronage, reflecting her support for the air ambulance services which rushed her to hospital when she suffered a potentially life threatening ectopic pregnancy in 2001. Sophie’s new role as Royal Patron of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance was announced by Buckingham Palace this morning.
The Countess of Wessex had to be flown to hospital in December 2001 when doctors discovered that the baby she was expecting was developing outside her womb. Sophie was airlifted from her home at Bagshot Park in Surrey to the King Edward VII Hospital in London after feeling unwell. She lost her baby, as is sadly usual in ectopic pregnancies, and underwent a two and a half hour operation before having to convalesce for several weeks.
The countess has been a prolific supporter of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and in November 2018 she opened its new headquarters which are based in Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire. During that visit, Sophie was given a tour of the new facilities and heard about the expansion the air ambulance service had undergone. She was also given a demonstration of the accident simulations used by the charity to help staff get ready to deal with all kinds of emergencies. In 2015, the Countess of Wessex opened the charity’s upgraded operational base at RAF Benson.
The Chair of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance, Sir Tim Jenner, welcomed Sophie’s appointment as Royal Patron, saying that her new role ‘‘reflects her long standing interest in our service and formally recognises how vital our emergency service is to our community”. He added ”with the Countess’ support, we will continue to push the boundaries of advanced pre-hospital care to give our patients the best possible chance of survival and recovery”.
The Thames Valley Air Ambulance now provides emergency medical care throughout Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, funded through public donations. It operates a helicopter and emergency response vehicles and as well as its medical teams, it relies on volunteers to keep its service going.
This is the second high profile air ambulance patronage announced for a member of the Royal Family this year. At the start of January 2019 the Duke of Cambridge, who worked as a pilot with the East Anglia Air Ambulance Service for several years, was confirmed as patron of the London Air Ambulance’s ’30 Years Saving Lives’ campaign which marks its three decades of work.