Duchess of Cornwall pays tribute to ‘backbone of country’ NHS volunteers

The Duchess of Cornwall has hailed volunteers as the “backbone of our country” as NHS responders reach a quarter of a million tasks.

Camilla, who is president of the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), thanked those who have given their time during the coronavirus pandemic at the start of what is usually Volunteers’ Week.

She said: “This year in particular we owe a great debt of thanks to all our wonderful volunteers who have stepped forward in astonishing numbers, pulling together to support those affected by Covid-19.”

The RVS is in charge of organising the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who opted to help the NHS during the pandemic.

The scheme has now completed its 250,000th task and is averaging 7,000 jobs a day, with 70% completed in two hours.

The duchess has previously given her time to the scheme and called 85-year-old Doris Winfield, who has been isolating in Rickmansworth.

At the time, Ms Winfield said: “I’ve been incredibly lonely over the last couple of months and it was wonderful to talk to her.”

The head of the RVS said volunteering has “never been so critical” as it is now.

Catherine Johnstone CBE added: “This is a marathon not a sprint and as members of families, social groups and communities go back to work as lockdown restrictions ease, the support of our volunteers will continue to be needed.”

Chief nursing officer Ruth May also paid tribute to the “kindness” of volunteers.

She said: “We are extremely grateful for the incredible efforts so far, which will continue over the coming months – in every village, town and city in England, there are people on hand who can help you and your loved ones so do not hesitate to get in touch if you need support.”

Anyone in need of support through the scheme should call 0808 196 3646.

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