For Maurice Day, who is one of the drivers of the Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre minibus, this year’s 70th birthday was one to remember – because he got to share it with HRH The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.
Maurice, who lives in Street, entered a draw arranged by The Sun newspaper for people who were to celebrate their 70th birthdays, for the chance to win a place at a birthday tea hosted by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
Said Maurice: “I put in my application and CV outlining my charity work, and was really lucky to be one of the 70 people selected – I believe there were around 50,000 applications. The event took place on 14th November at Spencer House (part of St James’s Palace) and we and our partners had a super time. The buffet tea was delicious, the champagne flowed and Prince Charles came to talk to every single one of us. It was a day to remember.”
Maurice’s place at the 70th birthday tea was in recognition of the amazing job has does raising funds for colorectal cancer services at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.
He said: “I was treated for cancer at Musgrove Park in 2002, and after my operation I was determined to help the hospital. I initially raised funds for two TVs, but then my consultant asked if I would help to set up the Somerset Colorectal Support Group which I did as its founding member. As an example of the fundraising I was involved with, Wells Rugby Club used to let us use the marquee for their annual dinner the evening afterwards. We ran a four-course meal with a cabaret and over seven years we raised around £60,000 this way.”
He added: “I have also been involved with Wells Carnival for 49 year and recently we raised £18,000 for local charities. The support we get from the county is phenomenal.”
This year’s 70th birthday party was not the first royal event Maurice has attended – he was also invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party in 2004.
As well as his amazing charity work Maurice, along with his colleague Cliff Banbury, drives the Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre minibus. The hospital provides care to patients across Somerset, taking in some of the most rural areas of the county. In order to help patients from towns, villages and hamlets across the county get to the hospital for treatment, it has run, with the support of Mendip Community Transport, a free minibus service for patients since 2011.
Maurice and Cliff share the driving between them. They both worked with each other years ago as truckers. Now, as active ‘retirees’, they are working together again as the Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre minibus drivers.
“Our day usually starts between 6.30 and 7.00am when we go to the hospital to check over the minibus and get our worksheets for the day,” explained Maurice who lives in Street. “We are then on-call until 7.00pm.”
Depending on where the patients live, Maurice and Cliff can transport around a dozen patients a day with back-up from local taxi services.
“We both enjoy the job immensely,” said Maurice. “Over the years we’ve learned to judge the character of our passengers, so we know who needs quiet reassurance and who is more up for a laugh. At the end of the day it’s about making everyone comfortable and ensuring they’re in the best frame of mind when they get to the treatment centre.”
Chester Barnes, Hospital Director at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre, commented: “We are extremely proud of Maurice and his achievements. We were delighted to hear that he had been selected for Prince Charles’ 70th birthday party and we are glad he had a great time there – it is well-deserved.”
Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre was the first hospital in the country to be rated ‘Outstanding’ across all five of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC’s) exacting criteria, and according to the annual Patient-Led Assessment of the Care Environment (PLACE) audit it is joint top in the country for the quality of its patient care environment.
The hospital provides day case and inpatient surgery to NHS patients. Its personnel, clinical and non-clinical, focus on providing the best possible personalised care. Waiting times are comparatively short, the patient experience second to none and outcomes are excellent – helping patients to get better, faster.
The services offered include:
- Joint replacements (hips, knees and shoulders);
- General orthopaedic surgery;
- General surgery;
- Eye surgery;
- Pain management;
- Diagnostic imaging
Picture caption: Maurice Day from Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre (second left) with HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, and others celebrating their 70th birthdays this year