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UHBW colleagues attend royal Coronation festivities

Last updated: 11/05/2023

Nurse Ruth Hendy in Westminster Abbey following The CoronationMortuary supervisor Steve and his wife Diane outside Buckingham Palace

Two members of staff from University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) attended royal celebrations as part of The King’s Coronation.

Lead Cancer Nurse Ruth Hendy attended Westminster Abbey as The King was crowned on May 6. She received an invite as a recipient of the British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to people living with and affected by cancer.

Ruth was initially sceptical when the invite arrived in the post. She said:

“I was surprised. I did wonder whether it was a scam to start with and I joked with my friends that maybe Ant and Dec were going to jump out. Was this genuine?”  

Once Ruth had confirmed with the Cabinet Office that the invite was indeed real, the scepticism very quickly turned into pride for being one of the privileged few who would be able to experience The Coronation in person.

“It’s a huge honour to be invited, and to be a part of such an important moment in history. It is incredible. I feel like I’m there representing lots of people who have worked really hard for such a long time to do the best for people with cancer across Bristol and the surrounding area.”

Despite the ceremony not beginning till 11am, Ruth joined a queue on Lambeth Bridge from about 6.30am and was then seated in the Abbey about 7.30am.

She said,

“We were seated for a long time, but there was so much to see and soak up. Wonderful music was played from 9am and there were so many people to talk to and watch entering the Abbey. I had a great seat, only three rows back, in the centre of the Nave, so everyone entering by the Great West Door walked through this way.

“Seated around me were a number of dignitaries and celebrities and fellow BEM recipients. It was lovely to hear about their work and to share the experience together.

“There was a palpable feeling of anticipation and excitement and sharing this moment in history.”

Ruth was not allowed a plus one to The Coronation but due to the BBC’s coverage and numerous shots of her on TV she felt like she’d been allowed a whole guestlist.

“I genuinely felt as though I was bringing my family, friends, colleagues and neighbours with me into the Abbey.

“From the number of messages and photos I had (from people sat at home taking screen shots from their TVs) we were sharing this experience together.”

On a day which featured meeting Ant and Dec and other British Empire Medal winners, Ruth’s highlights were some of the formal proceedings.

“There were so many special moments, it’s hard to choose. Experiencing the whole variety of wonderful music from the organ, the orchestra and the choir, it was breath-taking. But perhaps my standout moments included watching the moment the King was crowned and singing of the National Anthem at the end of the ceremony.”

Mortuary Supervisor Steve Cowley was at a royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in the week leading up to The Coronation.

Steve was nominated by UHBW to attend the Garden Party for his 28-year service to supporting family and friends with bereavement at the Trust.

Steve didn’t get an opportunity to speak to the soon to be crowned King but was about 3 feet from him, and other dignitaries.

“We were visited by King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince Edward and Sophie - Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and The Duke of Kent as well as a few other stars like Lionel Richie.”

“Guests were organised into two separate lines and the dignitaries paraded down the middle talking to some members of the party.

“We were treated to egg and cress and ham and mustard sandwiches. vol-au-vents, all different types of cake; sponge and cream, alongside tea, coffee or juice.

“The whole day was special, being in the actual palace gardens, and seeing the royals arrive were highlights.”