A former soldier and his wife were among a group of Hampshire Hospitals staff who got the chance to meet Prince William at a glittering event.
Ronnie and Sarah Waugh travelled to the Royal Society of Medicine in London to attend a reception celebrating the national launch of the Step into Health programme.
Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was one of the first Trusts to sign up to Step into Health, a programme that offers members of the armed forces who are coming to the end of their service the opportunity to undertake a work attachment programme that could lead to employment. As a result, the Trust was invited to send a delegation to the reception, which was hosted by Prince William.
Ronnie, who works as a porter at Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester, is a keen advocate of Step into Health, having come through the programme himself.
He said: “I really enjoyed the event. It was a lovely relaxed atmosphere and Prince William even remembered meeting me when he visited Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital back in 2016.”
Ronnie spent 27 years in the army but was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and recommended for discharge in November 2015. He had eight months to work out what he wanted to do next and during this time, he heard about the Step into Health programme.
He was offered a placement as a porter, transporting patients and vital equipment around the hospital. He really enjoyed it and was offered regular paid work at the Trust when he left the army.
Ronnie said: “I’m really grateful to have got the opportunity and for what Step into Health has done for me in terms of my confidence and helping me to get into employment.
“I love my job because I really enjoy meeting and talking to people. I even think it benefits my health because it’s good for me to be busy. I come to work with a smile on my face and go home with a smile on my face as well.
“There have been times when I’ve been challenged by my condition at work but I have met those challenges head on and got on with what I need to do. The support I’ve had from my colleagues and managers has been amazing.”
The programme is also available to the spouses of people leaving the armed forces and has helped Ronnie’s wife, Sarah, secure a role as a ward clerk at Royal Hampshire County Hospital.
Visit www.hampshirehospitals.nhs.uk/work-with-us/links-with-the-armed-forces to find out more about the Step into Health programme at Hampshire Hospitals.