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Sonia has a date at the Palace

District nurse Sonia Denny had an extra-special birthday on 21 May, as she was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace hosted by HRH the Prince of Wales. Despite an early summer downpour, Sonia, a member of the community early intervention team (EIT) at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, enjoyed the day, where all the invitees were being recognised for their work in public and voluntary services.

Sonia, who said she was honoured to be asked and privileged to be there, was accompanied to London by her husband Richard, and daughter Beckie Rolfe, who is a nurse with the Trust’s community heart failure team.

Sonia shared her memories of the day: “It was a shame the weather was so awful, there were a lot of people who had no mac or umbrella and were soaked through. Thankfully I bought myself an umbrella before I went in and took my mac as the weather had been forecast.

“Even so my fascinator and pink shoes are ruined, but I did have a lovely day, and was honoured to be asked and privileged to be there. I did not see any of the Royals as there were thousands of people with umbrellas trying to see them too, understandably!

“For me the best part of the day was having Richard and Beckie with me, and the people I met. In the Buckingham Palace grounds no one sat down as the tables and chairs were soaked, but I saw a lady on her own, who was about my age (young!). She was from Halifax and received the invite for work she had done with alcoholism and drug abuse, an amazing lady. The bands and music were lovely, and the gardens (although slightly flooded), but that didn’t dampen our spirits.”

Sonia, 69, joined the West Suffolk Hospital as a cadet nurse aged 17 in 1972, in the “old” hospital for west Suffolk – St Mary’s. She is one of a number of staff still working at the Trust who came to the “new” West Suffolk Hospital – this year marking its 50th anniversary - when it opened.

Last year she received a long-service trophy for her (more than) 50 years’ as a nurse. At the time Sonia said: “I look back and realise what a privilege it has been to be in people’s lives and be welcomed into their homes. I feel very humbled to care for people at the times in their lives when they show such courage and strength. It’s the best job in the world. I appreciate it every day.”

Sonia is considering retirement towards the end of this year, but for now, she is still carrying on her work nursing people in their own homes across west Suffolk, as part of the integrated early intervention team, which aims to prevent hospital admission and helping people live well and independently for longer.

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