An NHS nurse was invited to an event at Buckingham Palace that she will “remember forever”.
Clinical Nurse Educator Monica Dsouza, who works for Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), was invited to a reception for international nurses and midwives at Buckingham Palace hosted by His Majesty the King.
The event, which took place last month, recognised both international nurses and midwives, and those who have contributed to their development.
This year’s event was extra special because it celebrated the 75th birthday of both the NHS and King Charles III himself.
Monica, who joined CNTW from her native land India in 2018, recalls getting the phone call from her line manager telling her the news.
“I was working when Anne-Marie called me and said you might want to take a seat. I thought something was wrong and when she said I had been invited to an event with the King, I thought it must have been a joke. It was a complete shock to me.”
Monica received an official invite and, after sleepless nights deciding what to wear, it was time for the trip down to London.
She said: “It hadn’t quite sunk in until I was led through the Palace gates. When I was outside, I just felt like a tourist, but then I was actually let in!
“I started to feel really anxious and was worrying that I might say something stupid.”
Monica entered the reception to a choir singing. She was joined by colleagues from the NHS and health organisations from across the UK.
There was an opportunity to make friends and chat over champagne and canapes before the arrival of the King.
His Majesty greeted the group and Monica even got the chance to have a conversation with him. She was wearing a badge for SHINE, CNTW’s Trust charity, which she thinks is what got her noticed.
“I wished the King happy birthday,” she said. “I told him I’m from Mumbai and said I hoped he would visit. He made a joke about how bad the traffic is there!”
The moment they shared the joke was captured on camera, which Monica says she’s going to frame.
Monica works in the Trust’s International Recruitment and Relocation Support Team.
She works with staff who have been recruited internationally, supporting them with their transition to the UK.
Once they arrive, Monica helps them prepare for their competency exams. Since starting her role, she has been a pivotal part of their growth and development and has trained nearly 100 nurses.
On her trip to the Palace, she added: “I’m so grateful to the Trust and to NHS England for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Never in my dreams did I think this would happen.
“It has made me feel appreciated for the work I do and will be a memory to share with the grandchildren in the future.”