The Duchess of Cornwall spent today supporting the military’s medical sector by visiting RAF Leeming to open a new medical centre, and officially opening the Defence Medical Centre Whittington, now the national centre of defence medicine.
Before departing for another engagement at DMS Whittington, The Duchess saw a fly past in her honour.
After a helicopter flight south, The Duchess of Cornwall attended the formal opening of DMS Whittington and the Defence College of Healthcare Education and Training, also Families Day, where the staff and their families who will be working on site were to check out their new home.
The decision to create a unified Defence Medical Services headquarters was taken in 2006, and the building began on the site of the 19th century Whittington Barracks in 2008, at the cost of £138 million; the Midlands is now the centre of excellency for military medicine, including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
The Duchess arrived to cheering crowds and met with local dignitaries, including Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield, the constituency which the village Whittington falls under. The Dedication Ceremony then began with some speeches from companies who helped build the new centre, followed by Camilla making a speech to the crowds, to ‘celebrate with pride’ the opening of the state of the art centre. The cutting of a celebratory cake was undertaken with the help of an officer from DMS Whittington.
As it was families day, there were stalls from the local area, including Visit Lichfield, showcasing the local amenities and activities, and to help integrate the new community of military staff and their families into the current community of Lichfield, Whittington and Tamworth, which surround the barracks.The Duchess spent a few minutes browsing the stalls before chatting with Primary School children who then presented her with flowers.
Inside, the 66-year-old toured the new facilities of Keogh Training Centre, including a training ward and classrooms, before attending a reception with around 200 other people, hosted by the Surgeon General of DMS Whittington, Air Marshal Paul Evans. Prince Charles’ wife spoke with sponsors of the centre, including Carillion, Tempest Ford and Arthur Price.
Leaving the centre, Camilla saw the regiments mascot Private Derby, a ram, whom she petted. A Staffordshire Bull Terrier, another mascot, also received some fuss from The Duchess, who is known to be fond of animals. Scouts and Guides lined the path back to her car before she left and Camilla was presented with more flowers by event organiser, Commander Brown’s 10-year-old daughter Emily. The youngster said she was ‘nervous and excited’ about presenting flowers to The Duchess.
As she was about to get into the car, The Duchess noticed an elderly gentlemen in a wheelchair who had waited to see her, and went over to greet him, before heading back to London in the Royal helicopter.
Photos (c) Chloe Howard 2014