Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited the Lister Hospital in Stevenage on 23 July to present an award on behalf of The Queen to the Butterfly Volunteer Service.

The Princess Royal honoured the charity-funded Butterfly Volunteer Service with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – and became the first member of the royal family to hand out this prestigious accolade.

The award – the highest a voluntary group can receive in the UK – had been due to be presented to the Butterfly service last summer by the Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss, but the presentation had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Lord-Lieutenant, who is The Queen’s representative in Hertfordshire, joined Her Royal Highness for the presentation, and both spent time during their visit talking to Butterfly volunteers and hospital staff – whose work providing compassionate care to end-of-life patients has been so important, especially over the past 16 months.

Set up in 2016, the Butterfly service has grown each year – with trained volunteers working alongside East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s specialist palliative care team to ensure the patients and loved ones are supported in their last few days of life. To date, the volunteers have facilitated over 7,000 visits.

Angela Fenn – who co-ordinates the service with help from donations made to the East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity – jointly received the award from The Princess Royal alongside volunteer Bernadette Blain.

Afterwards, Angela said: “The news in June 2020 that our wonderful team of volunteers had won such a prestigious award was a real highlight in what was such a difficult year.

“For The Princess Royal to present the award makes it even more special, and is a tribute to the incredible compassion our volunteers have shown to patients who are in their last hours or days of life at the Lister Hospital.”

Ellen Schroder, chair of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, said: “The Butterfly volunteers provide an invaluable service at the Lister Hospital – providing companionship to patients at the end of their lives when loved ones cannot be there, as well supporting the family themselves.

“This award is richly deserved, and I wish to thank Her Royal Highness and the Lord-Lieutenant for making this a day none of us will ever forget.”

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer please email [email protected]. To make a donation to support the service, visit enhhcharity.org.uk/appeal/butterflyservice.