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Gail meets His Majesty the King

It’s not every day that you go to Buckingham Palace to meet His Majesty King Charles III, but that’s exactly what Willows’ clinical manager Gail St Juste-Alcide (pictured second from the left) did recently.

Gail had received a surprise invitation to a Palace reception to celebrate the contribution of international nurses and midwives working in the UK’s health and social care sector. This event formed part of the NHS’ 75th anniversary celebrations and His Majesty, who was marking his own 75th birthday on that day, was the guest of honour. Also present were the Rt. Hon. Steve Barclay MP, (the then) Secretary of State for Health, Dame Ruth May, the Chief Nursing Officer of England, Deborah Study, the Chief Nurse for Social Care, the Chief Executive of NHS England Amanda Pritchard, Helen Whately MP, Minister of State for Social Care, and over 400 other guests.

Everyone enjoyed champagne and finger food while His Majesty mingled and chatted with them. He and Gail spoke for several minutes.

“Being in Buckingham Palace was incredibly awe inspiring and I felt so honoured,” said Gail. “When His Majesty entered the room everyone clapped and cheered. I had been nervous about meeting him but he was relaxed and funny, and there were lots of jokes and banter. The conversation flowed well and he asked me some serious questions about my life and career. I felt a real connection to him, and it was just like talking to someone I know well. He was interested when I told him I’d met Queen Camilla some years ago.”

King Charles asked about Gail’s experiences of the pandemic, too. “He said that he was proud of what we are all doing and it’s important that we should be recognised. I will always treasure that moment with His Majesty,” she said.

Helen Whately also listened carefully to what Gail had to say. “She asked about Willows Care Home, and hopefully we will receive a visit from her soon,” added Gail.