Monday, 27 September 2021

Video: Her Royal High(five)ness

THE Countess of Wessex was upstaged by a three-year-old boy when she visited the Thames Valley air ambulance?s new-look base at RAF Benson.

THE Countess of Wessex was upstaged by a three-year-old boy when she visited the Thames Valley air ambulance?s new-look base at RAF Benson.

Lucas Pejkovic, whose life was saved by the ambulance after he fell into a garden pond when he was one, presented a posy to the royal visitor ? and then took a swipe at the flowers.

Click here to watch our video report of the visit

The countess kept a firm grip but then Lucas tried to grab the flowers and was only stopped by his father Tobias, from Culham, who was holding him.

Moments later, the boy plunged his hand into the middle of the posy but, thankfully, it remained intact.

Sophie laughed and attempted to high-five Lucas and the assembled crowd of staff, volunteers, former patients and donors burst into laughter too. The countess arrived at the base wearing a black jacket, blue trousers, stud earrings by Monica Vinader and Prada brown suede shoes. She was carrying a navy Beauchamps of London clutch bag, featuring a python print.

She was greeted by station commander Gp Capt Simon Paterson and the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Tim Stevenson.

She was escorted round the new training building by Sir Tim Jenner, the charity?s chairman, before she met staff, patients and volunteers.

Sophie took a look inside the air ambulance, a Eurocopter known as ?Bob?, and inspected the medical equipment it carries. She also unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion.

She said: ?Thank you to all the people who have been involved in creating this wonderful new premises for the air ambulance and to all the volunteers and people behind the scenes who keep this amazing organisation going.

?As somebody who has benefited from the air ambulance services, I can tell you it?s a wonderful service and hugely needed.?

In 2001, the countess was airlifted to hospital where she underwent an emergency operation for an ectopic pregnancy after collapsing with severe abdominal pains.

Sir Tim said: ?It is a privilege to welcome the Countess of Wessex for a private tour of our upgraded air crew base and demonstrate how our innovative air ambulance service is saving lives across the counties of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

?The new purpose-built facility has a custom-built training room to ensure the most advanced trauma and emergency medical expertise is on board, with upgraded accommodation facilities for the air crew and increased medical storage.

?It?s an enormous step forward and to have the countess here to open it for us just sets the seal on the whole proceedings. The next two years pave an exciting path for our service and the new base provides the foundations for increasing the capacity of the air ambulance as we look to undertake night operations and the vital medical intervention it provides to the local community.

?We rely entirely on the support of the people in three counties we serve.

?The countess is a great supporter of the air ambulance movement and to have her here to ask some really interesting and knowledgeable questions to all our staff, and to show the interest she did, is fantastic.?

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