The smiling Duchess shows surgical spirit


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First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

CAMILLA, Duchess of Cornwall yesterday performed her first ever surgery at the new Botnar Research Centre in Oxford.

The Duchess tested out a plastic model of a knee and a shoulder, which students use to learn how to perform keyhole surgery.

She got hands-on while opening the Botnar’s second phase, a new £12m building at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Headington.

Professor of orthopaedic surgery Jonathan Rees showed her how to hold an endoscope, which is a small camera that enlarges the surgeon’s work on a screen.

The Duchess joked: “I think after this I’m ready to go to the operating theatre.”

Oxford Mail:

  • The Duchess unveils a portrait of herself with artist Ruth Heppel at Douglas House

While she may not be scrubbing up any time soon, the models mean that surgical trainees go on to perform better on real patients in the operating theatre.

She then added: “I think I would need a lot more training. I don’t think I could take Prof Rees’ job.”

Prof Rees said: “She was a natural, and she was genuinely interested because this directly affects patients.”

This was her first visit to the centre since becoming patron of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre Charity, which raised £6m towards the Botnar Research Centre’s new building.

Her mother and grandmother both died from osteoporosis, and she is now the president of the National Osteoporosis Society.

Oxford Mail:

  • Camilla talks to Delphine Webb, with son Jacob, two

As well as her work at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, the Duchess is patron of Oxford hospice Helen & Douglas House.

Speaking to the hundreds of patients, volunteers and visitors who came to see her at Douglas House, which is celebrating its 10th year, she said: “This is the most inspiring place to come to. You go away feeling better, which is what a hospice should do.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Cherry Parmar and her mum Manjula present the Duchess with a posy

During her tour of Douglas House in Magdalen Road, the Duchess enjoyed a performance by student a capella group Out of the Blue, and spoke to patients and volunteers. She also unveiled a portrait of herself by artist Ruth Heppel.

Delphine and Michael Webb spoke to the Duchess about their two-year-old son Jacob, who stays at the hospice every five weeks.

Oxford Mail:

  • The Duchess chats with parents Peter and Rachel Griffith at Douglas House

Mrs Webb said: “She asked us if we enjoy coming and about Jacob’s time here. He loves it here, and it gives us a bit of time to relax knowing that he is in good hands.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Meeting Christopher Horth with dad Richard and mum Ann at Douglas House

Christopher Horth, 28, who previously stayed at the hospice, managed to charm the Duchess with his well-practiced bow, making her laugh and earning a personal pat on the shoulder.

His mother Ann said: “He met her two years ago, and he’s been asking about her ever since. She remembered him, which was very special. It was quite moving.”


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