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The Wessexes

The Wessex Week: volunteering and virtual visits

The Countess of Wessex makes a video call
Royal Family Instagram

The Earl and Countess of Wessex have made support for the NHS and for volunteering services major parts of their work during the coronavirus pandemic. The sevend ays just gone were no different with more backing for those caring for the ill and the most vulnerable in society during a time that has challenged everyone. Here’s a look back at the Wessex Week.

The Earl and Countess joined other members of the Royal Family in a virtual celebration of Commonwealth Day as the week got under way.

Sophie took part in a video discussion, led by TV presenter June Sarpong, about the importance of female leadership to local communities across the Commonwealth. The Countess was reunited with Virginia Kunguni who she met during her visit to Malawi. Virginia runs Girls Arise for Change, an organisation set up to increase and improve access to education for young women in Malawi. She also spoke to Caitlin Figuerido, who helps lead Jasiri Australia which works across the Commonwealth to support young people and help them become effective leaders. Along with June Sarpong, they talked about the importance of supporting young women across the Commonwealth with the Countess concluding ”the Commonwealth is a great force for good and I think if we can keep coming together and talking to each other and using the technology that is now at our fingertips, that really has proven its worth during this last year, let’s use that as a force for good.”

The Earl of Wessex continued his work with The Duke of Edinburgh Award in the week, holding meetings via video link. He also had virtual engagements with people working with Emergency and Civil Services in West Yorkshire as well as charities in the area.

Meanwhile, Edward and Sophie joined volunteers in Woking to provide food for homeless people. The Earl and Countess headed to the York Road Project in Woking on March 10th 2021 where they got busy in the kitchen, preparing lunch packs for distribution in the local area. Sophie has already volunteered with the project and the CEO, Cherisse Dealtry welcomed her royal supporter back, underlining the importance of being able to share with the couple the scale of the project’s outreach which has seen them rapidly expand the accommodation they offer to people without homes in the area to try and ensure no one is sleeping rough as the pandemic continues.

The Countess of Wessex also volunteered with Nourish Our Nurses during the week, spending March 9th 2021 packing boxes with food and helping with distribution. The organisation provides healthy food for NHS staff in Surrey to support them in the many challenges they face in the coronavirus pandemic. It’s another organisation that the Countess has helped at previously over the past year.

The week ended with a virtual unveiling as Sophie did the honours and officially inaugurated the new Children’s Assessment and Treatment Unit at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. As she watched on from her home, 11 year old patient Hajrah revealed the plaque that marked the opening of the unit while PPE clad nurses and doctors cheered her. Sophie was equally impressed, saying ”thank you very much for performing that for me, that was really kind….maybe you should come with me more often, you’re very good at doing it.”

The Countess also met a new mum with her three day old baby. Little Phoebe stayed quiet during the virtual chat but her mum told Sophie that ”everyone’s been really nice and just really supportive….I feel like royalty!”. The Countess replied ”Good! Every patient is so important.”

The week also saw The Earl of Wessex mark his birthday. Prince Edward turned 57 on March 10th 2021 and, like millions around the world this week, his celebrations were private as the coronavirus pandemic continued to dominate lives.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.