Arrow ImageAcute, PICU and Rapid Response

Posted on May 10 2024 by Fiona Bailey

Staff, volunteers and service users from a local mental health charity were given the Royal seal of approval recently after attending not one, but two prestigious events which had members of the Royal family in attendance.

Representatives from St Andrew’s Healthcare were invited to the prestigious King’s Royal Garden Party, which was held at Buckingham Palace, and also to a service held at St Paul’s Cathedral which Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex attended.  

St Andrew’s volunteers Mary Oxley, 94, and Roger Brewer, 79, were asked to attend the Garden Party to mark their commitment to the charity, as collectively they have committed to more than 62 years at St Andrew’s.

Voluntary Services Manager Dawn Wright, who accompanied them, said: “All our volunteers are hugely valued, but Mary and Roger are two of our longest-serving volunteers having worked with us for 22 and 40 years respectively.  They have both made such an impact to the lives of our patients, and it was a really proud moment for me to see them at Buckingham Palace where they got to meet the King himself.

“They thoroughly deserve toMartha in the cathedral be recognised for the work they do with us and I’m thrilled they received these highly coveted invites. It was a day we’ll all remember.”

Mary, who had also met King George VI as a child, said: “It has always been a dream of mine to meet members of the Royal family and yesterday it came true. It was a truly wonderful experience to be invited to the Palace and meet so many wonderful people, while also helping to spread the message about the excellent work we do at St Andrew’s Healthcare.”

Roger added: “It was a perfect day and I felt so honoured and proud to be inside the grounds of Buckingham Palace. King Charles made a real effort to meet as many people as he could.”

To help make his visit even more memorable, Roger had even drafted a personal letter to King Charles to outline what his role at St Andrew’s involves and to explain more about the charity.

He added: “When he was Prince, Charles came to visit St Andrew’s in 2000. I thought it would be helpful to write him a letter with photos of his visit, reminding him about it and outlining how the charity has developed since he last came. I also invited him to visit again. King Charles promised to read it, so I’m very hopeful that he will agree to return to see us all again one day.”

While the Royal Garden Party was being hosted, other dignitaries, clergymen and Prince Harry gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark a decade of the Invictus Games Foundation, an organisation which provides veterans with opportunities for recovery through sports.

Former Army medic Martha Prinsloo, a service user of St Andrew’s Healthcare’s veteran service, was invited to attend. Martha, who has been receiving treatment for complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) after serving in Afghanistan, joined other Invictus competitors who came together for the one-hour thanksgiving service.

Martha said: “It was an emotional, but also uplifting service and I’m very proud that I was able to attend. Years ago, before I started receiving treatment at St Andrew’s, there’s no way I would have been able to even consider leaving my house, let alone going into central London and attending an event with hundreds of other people.

“I really loved my time with Invictus and it was lovely seeing all my old teammates. It was also nice to see Prince Harry again, who I was lucky enough to meet when I competed in Germany last year.”

St Andrew’s Healthcare’s CEO Dr Vivienne McVey said: “What a momentous day for our charity to have representatives at not one, but two Royal engagements. We are immensely proud and appreciative of our volunteers – who do amazing things for our patients – but the number of years that Mary and Roger have clocked up between them is astounding. It was only right that they were invited to Buckingham Palace where they were recognised for their commitment to the charity and it sounds like it was a very memorable day for them.

“As for Martha’s Royal engagement, I think the fact she was able to attend such a busy event in central London, is a real marker of how far she has come in her recovery. I am so proud and pleased that she was able to go and celebrate the Invictus Foundation, another charity which has done some incredible work with the country’s veterans. Martha is an absolute inspiration to us all.”

For anyone who would like to find out further information about volunteering opportunities at St Andrew’s Healthcare, click here.