The Duchess of Cornwall joined members of Swindon Borough Council’s Live Well Hub this afternoon (6 July) to put the finishing touches to a landmark food parcel.

Her Royal Highness visited the Council’s Civic Offices to meet staff and volunteers who have played a pivotal role in supporting residents across the Borough during the coronavirus pandemic.

After being introduced to the Mayor and Mayoress of Swindon, Cllr Garry Perkins and Mrs Abnet Perkins, The Duchess met Cllr David Renard, Leader of the Council and Major General Ashely Truluck, High Sheriff of Wiltshire and Chairman of the Wiltshire Community Foundation.

Her Royal Highness, who was accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Mrs Sarah Troughton, then spoke to council staff from across the organisation who have gone the extra mile either to keep vital services running or by supporting vulnerable residents.

During the visit Her Royal Highness heard about the work of the Live Well Hub, where council staff and volunteers have made thousands of welfare telephone calls to residents, supported patients who have been discharged from hospital and delivered medication to shielded residents who have no family support network.

While visiting the team, Her Royal Highness also packed up the 1,000th food parcel which will be delivered to an isolated resident who is currently shielding from COVID-19.

The Duchess also met Children’s Services staff who have been keeping vulnerable children safe during lockdown, She heard how the housing team have been looking after 38 people or are either homeless or at risk of homelessness and how the Council has been providing free childcare for children of key workers.

She was also introduced to the team at the Council’s Register Office who have helped to rearrange well over a hundred marriages, have spoken to more than 700 bereaved relatives and are now working extremely hard dealing with a backlog of over 900 babies whose births have not been registered since lockdown.

Ben Humphrey, a Physical Activity and Inclusion Manager in the Council’s Public Health team, has overseen food logistics and hospital discharge in the Live Well Hub. After meeting The Duchess he said: “It has been a busy, but ultimately very rewarding time for our team.

“To receive recognition from Her Royal Highness today was amazing and a big boost for our entire team and the dozens of volunteers who have selflessly given up their time to help others at this difficult time.”

Social worker Becky Heyes has supported children and families in her care during lockdown and has gone above and beyond to carry out extra home visits. Becky said she was thrilled to meet HRH. “She was lovely,” Becky said. “She really took an interest in the children and the families that we work with.”

Debbie Curd, Service Manager for Locality Services, said: “It was a bit surreal. We had to keep the whole visit secret so we had to leave our desks just now and we will go back to tell our colleagues we just met The Duchess of Cornwall!”

Swindon Mayor, Cllr Perkins, said he was delighted The Duchess took time out of her busy schedule to hear how the Council has been supporting the local community through the public health crisis.

Cllr Perkins said: “It was an absolute honour and privilege to meet Her Royal Highness today and to introduce her to some of the unsung heroes who have provided a lifeline to so many residents in the Borough.

“This pandemic has highlighted the importance of councils to the local communities that they serve and I was proud to stand next to the staff and volunteers as they described their fabulous work over the past three months.

“It was also fitting that Her Royal Highness packed our 1,000th food parcel as she was able to see at first hand how the Council has made such a difference to thousands of people who have no one to call on in times of crisis.”

Pictures: Her Royal Highness meeting Swindon Borough Council staff and volunteers at the Civic Offices this afternoon and putting the finishing touches to the 1,000th food parcel to be sent out by the Council’s Live Well Hub.