Royal visitor helps mark 10th anniversary of children’s hospital

Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra has been appointed Royal Patron of the much-loved Sussex Children’s charity – Rockinghorse. The news came as part of a visit by the Princess to the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (The Alex) in Brighton, which was opened by Her Royal Highness in 2007.

The announcement completes a unique double for the Princess, The Queen’s cousin, having been the original children’s hospital Patron since 1954. Rockinghorse is now one of the only Sussex based charities to hold Royal Patronage.

Her Royal Highness takes over the patronage of the charity from Lady Mary Herries who sadly passed away in April of this year. Lady Mary was Lady-in-waiting to Princess Alexandra for over 50 years and was Rockinghorse’s one and only Patron in half a century, having duly accepted the invitation from Dr. Trevor Mann back in 1967 upon the formation of the charity.

Proncess Alexandra with Marianne Griffiths, Dr Ryan Watkins and Ryan HealDuring the visit, which took place on Wednesday, 19 July, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra met with Marianne Griffiths, Chief Executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Ryan Watkins, Consultant Neonatologist and Clinical Director of Children’s Services at The Alex; and Rockinghorse’s Chief Executive, Ryan Heal. The reception was joined by civic dignitaries including the High Sherriff and local MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

Her Royal Highness, then spent time visiting staff, patients, and their families during a tour of the dedicated Children’s Emergency Department and the hospital’s surgical ward and critical care unit, before being welcomed at a reception hosted by The “Alex” and Rockinghorse.

At the reception, the Princess unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark her visit celebrating 50 years of the Rockinghorse charity and 10 years of the new children’s hospital.

Ryan Heal, Rockinghorse Chief Executive, then presented Her Royal Highness with a specially commissioned diamond and gold Rockinghorse brooch designed by Brighton based jewellers, Posh Totty.

Mr Heal said: “As you can imagine, we are honoured to be awarded this visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra at such a prominent time in both the charity’s and hospital’s history. It has been a truly momentous occasion and I sincerely thank everyone across the region who continues to support our cause for the sick children of Sussex.”

Marianne Griffiths, Chief Executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We’re very proud to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra to mark and celebrate 10 years of the new Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and 50 years of our dedicated partner charity Rockinghorse. The staff at The Alex work exceptionally hard to make a real difference for some of our smallest patients and the Care Quality Commission’s rating of ‘Outstanding’ for our children’s services is a reflection of that. We are enormously grateful for the support that Rockinghorse continue to provide and really value our partnership that is centred on going above and beyond for patients.”