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HRH The Duchess of Rothesay visits Maggie's cancer support centre in Inverness - and talks with the online Men's Group

By Louise Glen

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Maggies, Inverness visit of HRH Duchess of Cornwall.
Maggies, Inverness visit of HRH Duchess of Cornwall.

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay today visited cancer support centre Maggie’s in the grounds of Raigmore Hospital, Inverness to find out how they have supported people living with cancer throughout the pandemic.

After meeting with staff, funders and members of the NHS in the centre, Her Royal Highness joined a men’s support group by Zoom to hear how they have benefitted from digital support over the last 18 months.

People like Matt, 56, from Culloden. Matt is living with advanced lung cancer, which was first diagnosed in February 2018.

He said: “It was really great to meet The Duchess with the rest of the Maggie’s Highlands Men’s Group over Zoom.

"I had met The Prince of Wales before as he was Colonel-in-Chief of the Gordon Highlander’s – the army regiment I was part of for eight years, but it was really lovely to meet The Duchess. She was very friendly and genuinely interested to hear how much Maggie’s supports everyone in the group.

“Attending the Maggie’s Men’s Group online every Friday is something I couldn’t live without and I certainly couldn’t have lived without it in lockdown. All the guys in the group are in a similar situation to me – they are either living with cancer and some are in remission.

“We talk about football and death – nothing is taboo and we have a laugh.

"It’s where real friendships have been formed and because it’s digital and people can access the group from their own homes, I’ve made friends from far and wide from Inverness to Thurso and from all over the Highlands and Islands. It is something I wouldn’t miss for anything. If I did miss one Friday afternoon, I’d feel like part of my life was missing.”

Maggie’s Highlands is open to see people for important face-to-face support, but developing a digital support programme during the pandemic has allowed the charity reach those who would otherwise be unable to visit the centre.

As Maggie’s staff explained to Her Royal Highness, Maggie’s Highlands only supports six per cent of the Scottish population but covers 41 per cent of the country’s land mass, including all over the Highlands and Islands from Barra to Caithness and Benbecula, and the Isle of Lewis.

Maggie’s chief executive Dame Laura Lee said: “It was wonderful to be able to welcome our President, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay to our Inverness centre today.

“As our President Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay has been so supportive of Maggie’s over the years and during the coronavirus pandemic, she encouraged our staff and centre visitors with her visits.

" I was delighted to have the opportunity to introduce Her Royal Highness to our Men’s Group online and to explain how we are adapting our support to better support people from remote communities in the Highlands.

“Her Royal Highness heard from the Men’s Group how they have been helped to take back control and start to live well with cancer. They highlighted the huge need for psychological support, which Maggie’s offers.

“We are so grateful to Her Royal Highness for continued support and for her kindness, warmth and encouragements, she is such a wonderful advocate for Maggie’s.”

David Park, interim deputy chief executive for NHS Highland, said: "It was good to be in attendance today with other NHS Highland colleagues as Maggie's Highlands were able to highlight key areas of support they give to so many people across the NHS Highland area and beyond.

“We have a very close working relationship with Maggie's Highlands and it was heartening to hear from our patients just how much their support means to them. It was clear today that the visit from the Duchess of Rothesay was a very welcome boost to all involved."

Maggie’s Highlands has been supporting people from across the Highlands region of Scotland since 2005.

Maggie’s Highlands Centre Head Seonaid Green said: “It meant a lot to our Men’s Group to be able to share their experiences with Our President, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay. They were very touched that Her Royal Highness took the time to listen to their stories and about how they benefit from Maggie’s support.

“We are so pleased to be able to welcome her to our centre and incredibly grateful for her continued support.”

READ: WATCH: Island rockers Peat & Deisel get behind a 500-mile cycle for Maggie's Highland – by sharing a hilarious video to help with fundraising

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