His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales visited Dafen in Llanelli today, Friday (Feb 23) as part of three Royal engagements associated with medical services and charities in Wales.
The first engagement was a visit to Tŷ Hafan children’s hospice where The Prince of Wales toured the facilities used by children with life-limiting conditions and their families from across Wales, including the multisensory unit, music therapy room, hydrotherapy pool and the redesigned garden before meeting families and supporters. The Prince of Wales is Patron for the charity.
The second engagement was a visit to Morriston Hospital to celebrate the 75th anniversary of The League of Friends of Morriston Hospital. His Royal Highness (HRH) met volunteers and supporters of the league, before being shown some of the medical equipment that the League has donated from the £2,100,000 money that they have raised for the hospital since 1943. HRH also met clinical staff who operate the equipment as well as meeting hospital staff.
HRH then travelled to Llanelli where he opened the Head Office and South Wales airbase of the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. The Prince of Wales toured the new development meeting pilots, medical staff, volunteers and supporters before unveiling a plaque.
A large number of fund raisers, volunteers and VIP’s were present as well the Ammanford-based Encore Stage School choir were singing throughout the visit. The school has raised thousands of pounds for the charity after one if its teachers, Rebecca Evans, died in a road collision which WAAC attended in November 2016.
Rebecca’s son Cian, 3, was airlifted by WAAC and presented a gift to HRH alongside Curtis Thomson, 4, who was flown to London on 3 January 2018 for an urgent liver transplant. The gift was a jar of Mêl Cilgwenyn honey, local to the Dafen airbase. The farm runs the Bee Free Project, helping ex-service personnel cope with PTSD symptoms.
Chairman of the Llanelli Rural Council John Evans and Chairman of the County Council Irfon Jones were present as well as local councillor Rob Evans and celebrities Bonnie Tyler and Max Boyce MBE.
During the tour HRH The Prince of Wales got in to one of the helicopters along with Chief Pilot Grant Elgar. Speaking to Llanelli Online afterwards Mr Elgar said:
“It is a privilege for everyone involved in this charity. It is not very often we get to meet His Royal Highness. He is a former pilot and he was really interested in our job. He was familiar with the controls but a lot of it is new technology.”
HRH met medical crews, pilots and engineers in the Charity’s custom-built hangar. The two helicopters on display were The Children’s Wales Air Ambulance (an EC135) and one of WAAC’s three night-capable emergency helicopters (a H145). HRH was invited to view the Children’s Wales Air Ambulance aircraft, a dedicated helicopter for transferring vulnerable babies and children between specialist hospitals. He also viewed the flight incubator, which was specifically built for the charity with design input from WAAC and Welsh neonatal nurses.
The medical crew performed a demonstration of a cardiac arrest scenario in the hangar. HRH went on to view the H145 HEMS (helicopter emergency medical service) aircraft before moving on to the Charity’s headquarters next door.
In the headquarters HRH met volunteers, staff, supporters and the local builders who constructed the site.
Before officially opening the headquarters and airbase by unveiling a plaque HRH The Prince of Wales said:
“I want to say what an enormous pleasure it is to come back and see this remarkable organisation the Air Ambulance after 17 years. I remember all those years ago when I arrived they were immediately called out so there was hardly anybody to meet at all. Today for some reason nothing has happened so I had a chance to meet virtually everybody who plays such an incredibly important part in this remarkable service all over Wales and of course in other parts of the country so often.
“Owing to your ability now to provide specialist service for children and for so many other needs. So just on this occasion it does provide me with an opportunity to congratulate you all on really a remarkable achievement and on the fact that you raise quite so much money every year which just shows I think how many wonderfully generous people there are around. But also apart from the corporations, the companies and others who provide remarkable help, there are I know 600 volunteers who provide again a vital part of the efforts you are providing. Apart from anything else it was wonderful to meet Max Boyce again. When I met him a very long time ago when he was about ten years old I think
“I do think what you are doing is remarkable and as a father of an ex air ambulance pilot I have some vague understanding of what you all do and just what high professional standards you manage to achieve. I hope you have great success in the future.”
When leaving the reception, HRH walked past a mural painted along the length of the wall. The mural was designed and painted by students from Swansea College of Art. It depicts the history of WAAC, from when the first aircraft was introduced at Swansea Airport in 2001 (a yellow Bolkow 105 sponsored by the Automobile Association), through to a fleet of advanced helicopters with the vision to fly both day and night.
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