The Duke of Cambrdige has held an “emotional” call with a nurse who formed a bubble with the family of a terminally ill girl to protect them from Covid-19 last summer.
Prince William spoke to Jenny Manson, 54, one of more than 300 healthcare workers he has called across the UK since the start of 2021.
Jenny, a community children’s nurse from Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway, told the duke how she had cared for nine-year-old Holly Clarke at her home.
She joined the Covid bubble so the child’s parents Richard and Stevie, her twin sister Becca and older sister Emily could spend their last precious months with her before her death in October.
Jenny, a single mother herself to 16-year-old twin daughters, worked at the family’s home from May last year, to protect them from the risk of catching the virus.
She said of the March 4 call with William: “It was just so lovely, he wanted to talk about that in depth.
“He was really, really interested in the family and the how the family are now. He wanted to send his best wishes.
“He said as a father it made him feel quite emotional, the conversation we were having. He talked to me about when he was working as a helicopter pilot and how when he went to a child who had had a trauma or an accident that used to be really sad. He spoke about that a lot and he was just so sincere.”
Jenny said: “He was really interested to know how I managed that situation and I told him that what I did was that I became part of that family’s bubble.
“I worked with them constantly really so it stopped other professionals having to go into the house, which the family really, really appreciated.
“I stopped seeing other patients. And I worked from the home or the office, and I went out to the family.
“I also taught them how to work with her medication, and how to help her, and I was on call basically day and night for this family.
“And it just showed, for me, really, the Covid pandemic was not going to stop me giving this child and family what they needed at this point in their life, and they really appreciated that.
“They got a lot out of being listened to and considered and, and it led to them to nominate me for a Nurse of the Year Award in Scotland which was quite a surprise but an absolute privilege. And I was telling the duke, how was it that they thought about me during that absolute sadness.”
“I told the family (about the call), and they just said look what Holly’s done, she’s got the Duke of Cambridge talking about her!’ It was a real comfort to them.”
Jenny has since been seconded into a key role in leading the Covid-19 vaccination delivery in the Stewartry area.
She said: “It’s fantastic to watch the vaccine roll out and people are so happy when they come and get their vaccinations. Especially the really older generation - they’ve not been out for a year and they’ve come to get the vaccination and all they want to do is talk to you and they’re just so happy - I think that makes it so worthwhile.”
She said of receiving the duke’s call: “I’m just a little nurse who works in Scotland but for the duke to actually want to take time to talk to me it felt I was so privileged. I felt like my job, and, and the role of the NHS was really being acknowledged.
“He was unbelievably genuine and sincere.”
William also spoke to Shamraze Zeb, 41, a practice manager at Black Country and West Birmingham CCG who has been helping to manage the vaccine rollout across a Primary Care Network of nine GP practices.
Shamraze told the duke how the team had set up pop-up clinics at local Mosques and Gurdwaras to tackle the problem of vaccine hesitancy in the area.
He said: “He (the duke) asked me about the uptake in the mosque and how it went and I explained to him that we had patients that had declined previously, but they turned up at the mosque just because of public trust.
“We had a conversation about how he was aware of, the vaccine hesitancy, but he was saying that the more factual information we can get out into the media and into different channels that will help the cause and he said that it was fantastic that me and my team are going out and doing these initiatives to increase the uptake.”
William also surprised Shamraze’s daughters Safah, 13, and Hawwa, 12, by saying hello to them and their mum Attia during the call.
“It was a really proud moment for me really,” said Shamraze, “They were saying, ‘Dad, he said my name!’ He said hello to them, which was a really nice touch.
“He was very interested in seeing how I was coping and you know the pressure it had on me and obviously my family life and so forth.
“It’s been full on, I have to work in the evenings from home and I have to work on the weekends to catch up on work and so forth but it’s become part and parcel of the way I work now for the last year. So it is added pressure, but I’m sure a lot of people are doing that just to make things happen.
“Me speaking to the Prince, that was the most exciting thing that’s ever going to happen to me I think, but it was really pleasing, you know, all the hard work you do, and then to be recognised by the Duke of Cambridge was a really proud moment.”
William also spoke to Tracey Stockwell, Head of Procurement at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, about her experience of managing the flow of PPE and other essential equipment during the pandemic.
She said of the call: “I was a bit nervous but the duke made me feel really, really good. He’s very easy to talk to.
“I told him I was undergoing chemotherapy treatment whilst I was working from home.
“The duke is president of the Royal Marsden, so he was very kind and he understood. I was waiting for a scan result, he understood the anxiety that you can get with that.
“It’s not been easy. I’ve not had it as bad as a lot of people, there are a lot of people much worse off than me but I wanted to carry on working and I explained that to the duke, to take my mind off things. And luckily I was in a position where I could, I could function and carry on working and support my team.”
Tracey, 57, said: “He asked me about my team and asked me to make sure I thanked my team and I send them all an email just to explain what happened and to pass on these things because it means a lot that they were recognised.”
“We were key in managing all the protective equipment, and so it was a very, very busy time. The flow of the PPE that’s coming through is fine now. And we’re getting what we require.”
She said the Trust had lots of support in place for staff, adding: “I think it’s just keeping the lines of communication open through making sure I’m available for my team, my manager is always available for me should I need support. Everyone has really, really pulled together.”