Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, welcomes royal visitor

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Staff and patients at King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital welcomed a very special visitor on Tuesday as they celebrated a milestone in the progress of a much-valued Norfolk facility.

There was a buzz of excitement as the car pulled-up outside the main entrance and the Queen arrived at the hospital named in honour of her late mother.

She had made the short journey from her Sandringham home to officially open a £3m MRI scanning suite.

Among those nervously waiting was practice development nurse Karon Strong, who was chosen to present a posy of freesias.

Having never met the Queen before, she admitted to being nervous, “but very honoured”.

The Queen visited the new scanning suite before unveiling a plaque and signing a photograph which will be put in the MRI unit. It was her first visit to the hospital since 2008.

Wearing a white, lavender and baby-blue tweed coat with matching dress, and diamond brooches, given to her by her parents on her 18th birthday, she met a welcoming party, including Richard Jewson, lord lieutenant of Norfolk; Henry Cator, high sheriff of Norfolk; and West Norfolk mayor Geoffrey Wareham.

As the Queen arrived at the new MRI scanner, patient Ian Tupper from Colkirk, was having his knees scanned.

Mr Tupper, 65, said he thought the Queen had seen the top of his head while he was in the machine.

He added he had met her before though – when he was three years old and she was still Princess Elizabeth.

Mr Tupper was born on the Queen’s 21st birthday and his father, chief petty officer Reginald Tupper, served under the Duke of Edinburgh as chief gunner on HMS Magpie.

He said: “I was a bit nervous to have the Queen watching as I had my scan but it was a great honour. My parents met the Queen a number of times and I was delighted to be chosen and to have a chance to share that story. To have met her as both a princess and the Queen seems like something special.”

Heather Love, 57, from Swaffham, met the Queen after having a scan on her foot on Tuesday morning.

She said: “I had an MRI scan about 15 years ago and had to travel to Ipswich for that, so this new unit is a great improvement. It was such a privilege to meet her. She asked about my scan and I told her I had been listening to music throughout it and had to resist the urge to tap my foot. She seemed to be amused.”

Kate Gordon, chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust said she was delighted at how the visit had gone. “It has been a most enjoyable day and our MRI investment has been huge,” she said.

She thanked the Queen for taking the time to visit the hospital and told her the picture would take pride of place in the waiting area.

Dr Geoffrey Hunnam, consultant radiologist, has met the Queen on three previous occasions but said there was always excitement around a royal visit.

The new MRI suite houses two new scanners which offer hi-tech diagnostic techniques for patients in the area. The building project cost £1.8m and two scanners are being leased at a cost of £150,000 a year.

New scanners can potentially reduce the need for more invasive procedures and limit the need for extensive surgery by providing a more detailed image before any operations.

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