VOLUNTEERS and staff at Solihull’s Marie Curie Hospice have been looking back to when the now-King Charles officially opened the hospice.
After years of planning, building and organising the Marsh Lane site welcomed the then-Prince of Wales in his role as patron to the charity in June 2013.
He visited the day service centre and met in-patients privately and spent time touring the grounds of the hospice and met volunteer gardeners and staff.
Some of those he spent time with and spoke to have told of his warm and kindness towards the patients, staff, volunteers and when he raised a smile in the gardens.
Nikki Reed, a consultant in palliative care at the hospice, said: “Prince Charles, as he was then, was very kind and considerate throughout the whole visit. He took the time to speak with many of us and showed genuine interest in all that we do.
“I especially remember being in a room with one of our patients who was waiting to meet him.
“Despite being told that there would be no need for her to try and stand for the Prince when he entered the room, she dutifully tried and stumbled a little.
“Both myself and the nurse present in the room were by her side and able to lower her comfortably back into her chair.
“When I looked up Prince Charles had made his way across the room and was holding her hand and he said ‘No madam, please don’t stand for me, I am honoured to stand before you’.
“He then spent some considerable time talking to both the patient and her family.”
Jane Murray, the bereavement services manager, said he was genuinely interested in people’s roles at the hospice.
She added: “I have a vivid memory of him in our day hospice garden where patients at the time had a vegetable plot and a couple of our volunteer gardeners were introduced to him.
“One of them asked him if he would like to plant a thistle plant, he quickly took the spade placed his foot ready to dig then laughed and said ‘I’ve just spent the last week digging these up at Highgrove’.”
Barbara Barker, a volunteer in the gardening team, said: “I was in our day hospice, and we were working on a horticulture therapy session.
“The then-Prince came over to see what we were doing and showed a great interest in our project.
“It was an honour to meet him and the patient I was working with was so excited, that is something that will stay in my mind. The visit created huge excitement in our new Hospice.”
David Rice, the facilities manager, added: “The most striking thing for me on the day was when he entered the ward area to meet the clinical, catering and cleaning teams, stopping to speak to each group as he walked through with kind and affectionate words.
“He went on to meet our patients, taking the time to sit on their beds and hold their hands as he spoke to them.
“He spent quality time with each of them, not merely popping his head around the door. It was clear that he was overrunning the military, minute-by-minute schedule set by his assistants but he continued, undeterred, until he had finished meeting with the patients.”