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Prince William's 'emotional' call with nurse revealed as he praises NHS staff for 'fantastic work'

The Duke of Cambridge has personally thanked over 300 NHS staff and volunteers

Emily Nash

The Duke of Cambridge had 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.

William called Jenny Manson, 54, one of more than 300 healthcare workers he has spoken to 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 cared for nine-year-old Holly Clarke at her home, so her 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. 

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WATCH: Prince William's emotional call with NHS staff and volunteers

Jenny, a single mother to 16-year-old twin daughters, worked at the family's home from May last year, to reduce their risk of catching the virus.

She said of the 4 March 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 that used to be really sad. He spoke about that a lot and he was just so sincere."

Jenny said: "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."

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William has personally thanked over 300 NHS staff and volunteers during the pandemic

Jenny, who has been a nurse for 34 years, told the Duke she had previously worked at the Acorns Children's Hospice in Birmingham, which he visited in 2018, 30 years after it was opened by his mother Princess Diana.

She said: "The people who met her there thought she was an absolutely wonderful person. He [William] said that was so lovely. I think he is a chip off the old block, as they say."

Jenny has since been seconded into a key role in leading the COVID-19 vaccination delivery in the Stewartry area. 

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."

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William and Kate visited a vaccine centre at Westminster Abbey on 23 March

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.

"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. 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."

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The Cambridges at Newham Ambulance Station in March 

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 1 March 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. 

“"t'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, added: "He asked me to make sure I thanked my team and I sent them all an email just to explain what happened and to pass on these things because it means a lot that they were recognised."

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The Duke speaking with staff at a vaccine centre in King's Lynn in February

Earlier this month, during another call to Dr Thelma Craig, a respiratory consultant at the Mater Hospital in Belfast, the Duke said: "I just want to say on behalf of everyone what a fantastic job you've done. You've all held it together and been absolutely wonderful people.

"It's been a real team effort but we're all very proud of you. The NHS has gone from already being much loved to probably the most admired organisation around.

"Thank you so much for all your hard work."

Through phone and video calls, William has spoken to staff representing every Health Board in Wales, every NHS Board in Scotland, every Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland and every county in England, as cases and hospital admissions peaked and while they worked to roll out the vaccine.

Since late February, he has also made visits to vaccination centres in King's Lynn and Westminster and an ambulance centre in Newham, east London.

Kensington Palace said he wanted to check in on the wellbeing of all those supporting the NHS and thank them for their vital role in the UK's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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