Royal Corner

Prince William Celebrates Emergency Services Day

The Duke of Cambridge visits Belfast in Northern Ireland to thank the Nation's emergency service heroes and promote mental health support.

SEPTEMBER 9th, 2020

The Duke of Cambridge delivered a poignant speech today in Belfast to celebrate Emergency Services Day - © Tim Rooke/Shutterstock


he Duke of Cambridge visited Northern Ireland today to mark Emergency Services Day (999 Day). The Duke met with emergency responders to both thank them for their work and also discuss the importance of mental health and what support is on offer.

On his visit the Duke delivered a deeply poignant speech thanking the emergency services for their commitment and selfless work throughout and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

The Duke meets a new canine worker who is training to assist with emergencies - © Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

In his speech the Duke said: “"Today is 999 day, a day when we come together to celebrate and thank the two million people, just like you in this room, who put their own lives on the line, time and time again to keep the rest of us safe and healthy.

"This has already been an extraordinary year.

"The months ahead will no doubt be uncertain and at points scary.

"But thanks to the dedication and sacrifice of those of you working across the emergency services and in the NHS, I count myself and others in this country very fortunate.

"Your dedication is not only apparent when we are faced with a global pandemic.

The Duke embarks on a day of engagements in Belfast to celebrate Emergency Services Day 2020 - © The Royal Family Channel

"Each and every day, people from teams across the blue light community are called to the scenes of dreadful incidents. Just last week in Birmingham, ambulance and police workers turned up to a horrendous incident and provided critical support to the most vulnerable.

"But as you care for us in our time of need, so too must we ensure that we are there for you when you need it the most."

He continued: "We must ensure that you have the right support in place each and every day.

"I know first hand, that even in routine circumstances, those of you on the frontline can face immense challenges that can naturally have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health.

"Firstly, it’s important that we recognise that.

"And secondly, it’s important that we do all we can to support you through it.

The Duke speaks with emergency service staff about support for mental health - © Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

"Yesterday, I convened a meeting of senior leaders including the heads of emergency services and their respective charities from across the U.K. to discuss this very issue.

"There has never been a cross-sector mental health forum of this kind, to share learnings and best practice on how best to support staff.

"I was encouraged and heartened about their desire for tangible and lasting change – with new and better collaboration and training, which could certainly draw inspiration from the peer support programme here in Northern Ireland.

"In February of last year, Catherine and I met with a group of your PSNI colleagues at Hillsborough Castle to hear about their experiences and the unique set of policing and safety challenges that they face.

"We were struck then, as I am now, by your steadfast commitment to helping others. You are a testament to the blue light community across our country, and I can’t thank you enough for what you do.

"At one point or another, each and every one of us will meet you or one of your colleagues, speak to you, be comforted by you and benefit from the care and protection you provide.

"Given what we ask of you, we must do all we can to look out for you; and to help you to look out for each other.

"If we can get all of the emergency services under one umbrella, take the learnings from Canada, from the US, from Australia (all on call) then I really do think we can change the system and the culture."

The Duke speaks with emergency service staff about support for mental health - © Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

The speech was part of a day full of engagements, with the Duke meeting police at Belfast’s Police College who were taking part in the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) Wellbeing Volunteer Training course. The course is a peer support programme helping colleagues suffering from mental health issues by utilising shared experiences and the obstacles faced by those within the sector.

The visit comes after William convened the first meeting of the Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board. The meeting brought together leaders from across the entire UK’s emergency services for a conversation on mental health in the hope to promote collaborative working across the country’s emergency services.

Set up after research conducted by The Royal Foundation in 2018, the Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board was initiated after the study, in partnership with King’s College London and the Open University, recommended sharing “better practice” when it came to mental health.

Earlier this week the Duke also took part in the Emergency Services Festival of Thanksgiving with a speech paying tribute to the country’s emergency service heroes. William said: “On behalf of my family I want to thank you all; your hard work, your determination, and your courage are a tremendous source of pride for our country, and we will be forever grateful for all that you do.”

He recently admitted that he would have loved to return as a pilot throughout the pandemic, and even allowed the London Air Ambulance to use Perks Field close to his royal residence Kensington Palace. The move was praised by the charity who thanked the Duke and Duchess, as well as their staff, as it allowed the ambulance service to save valuable time.

The Duke visited Belfast today for a day of engagements - © Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

The Duke, who worked as an Air Ambulance pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance between March 2015 and July 2017, has been a continued supporter of the UK’s emergency services, as well as, services throughout the Commonwealth.

To learn more about Emergency Services Day, visit their website.

To hear more about the work of The Royal Foundation, visit their website.

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