William and Kate thank front line workers on visit to officially open hospital in Orkney

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have thanked medical staff for their efforts during the pandemic as they officially opened the Orkney Islands’ £65 million hospital.

William and Kate were greeted with cheers and rounds of applause from well-wishers and nurses as they began their first official visit to the remote Scottish archipelago.

The couple are touring Scotland as part of William’s role as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

During their visit to the Balfour Hospital in Orkney’s main town of Kirkwall, William praised trauma nurse Dr Tariro Gandiya, adding: “It must be reassuring to know we are all in this together.”

Kate added: “Well done.”

The Cambridges are known by their Scottish title the Earl and Countess of Strathearn when north of the border, and Kate wore a Strathearn tartan scarf and a coat by Massimo Dutti for the visit.

They were given a private tour of the hospital which was the biggest construction on the island since its cathedral was completed in 1168.

Paul Maguire, catering assistant, spoke to the duke and duchess in the hospital’s sensory garden.

He said afterwards: “We spoke about how it has been in the last year and I explained how we split into two teams so I hadn’t seen most of my colleagues till now. It’s been tough.

“He asked what the most popular meal was and I told him it was macaroni cheese.”

The duchess pulled a cord to unveil a plaque which marked the opening of the facility which began treating patients in 2019.

It replaced the previous hospital which had served the community for 90 years, and its circular design is based on the 5,000-year-old Neolithic settlement Skara Brae – one of Orkney’s most visited ancient sites.

Many NHS services have returned from the mainland to the new hospital, allowing residents to receive much of their care closer to home.

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