Duke of Cambridge: Trauma makes the world seem a ‘darker, blacker place’ | UK News

The Duke of Cambridge has spoken of his concern about the pressure faced by emergency workers during the coronavirus pandemic, saying his work as an air ambulance pilot showed him that being surrounded by trauma and sadness can make you see the world as a “darker, blacker place”.

Prince William shared his experience as part of a video call accompanied by the Duchess of Cambridge, talking to counsellors and frontline workers about what mental health support is out there for those working in the blue light services and within the NHS.

William and Kate’s charitable trust The Royal Foundation has partnered with NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care to help fund Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ support line.

NHS staff, social care workers, carers and all emergency services personnel can access the helpline to get support for anxiety, trauma and the impact of seeing a significant number of deaths.

After hearing from Carly Kennard from the London Ambulance Service who has lost her uncle to COVID-19 and her colleague Jules Lockett who described the anxiety that has been sparked by the pandemic, William said: “Something that I noticed from my brief spell flying the air ambulance with the team, is that when you see so much death and so much bereavement it does impact how you see the world.”

He added: “What really worries me about the frontline staff at the moment is that you’re so under the cosh at the moment, you’re so pressurised and you’re seeing such high levels of sadness, trauma, death that it impacts your own life and your own family life because it’s always there, you’re so drawn into it, which everyone is, it’s only natural.

“But that’s what I think a lot of the public don’t understand – that when you’re surrounded by that level of intense trauma, sadness and bereavement, it stays with you at home, it stays with you for weeks on end and you see the world as a much more, slightly depressed, darker blacker place.”

The increase in mortality rates in both hospitals and the community due to COVID-19 means many health and social care professionals and emergency responders are dealing with levels of death they will not have experienced.

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‘COVID patients getting younger and sicker’

Phil Spencer, Wellbeing Inspector for Cleveland Police, told the couple: “Police officers, like a lot of emergency services, we run towards danger, we run towards a terrorist attack, we run towards the pandemic and I personally think this is why police haven’t engaged as much as we should have or could have with Just ‘B’ because it’s like we don’t want to take anybody else’s valuable time away from that service so we’ll just get on with it.

“And perhaps further down the line, which really worries me when all this is gone, whatever this is, further down the line we’re going to have some broken police officers and emergency services staff because we’re too busy focusing on protecting the most vulnerable and communities. This is why initiatives like this couldn’t be better timed.”

The Duchess of Cambridge asked the group if there was a stigma around asking for support and if the helpline volunteers anticipated more people needing help.

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Tony Collins, a volunteer on the Just ‘B’ helpline, and chief executive of North Yorkshire Hospice Care, said: “I think there’s something about reticence to call at the moment and also around calling when they feel they have space to start processing and reflecting on the experiences they’ve been through.

“The words I hear time and time again are words like exhausted, relentless and then so much death and everybody seems so anxious, everything seems to be that much harder.

“And I think NHS staff in particular often explain how distressed they’ve been not being able to spend the time and the quality time with patients and families that they needed to, that they wanted to, that they’re trained to and there’s often hurried conversations giving news either with masks on or over the telephone, the type of news that shouldn’t be given that way.”

The Just ‘B’ counselling and trauma helpline can be accessed daily between 8am and 8pm on 0300 303 4434.

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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with bushfire-affected Kangaroo Island residents

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have praised the spirit of the Kangaroo Island community following the area’s catastrophic summer bushfires — and have also gone face-to-face with one of the island’s more cuddly inhabitants.

A video posted to social media overnight shows Prince William and Catherine speaking to some of the island’s residents and emergency crews, saying it was “fantastic to hear about the community spirit” and strength.

In the minute-long video, Catherine said it was “so sad” to hear stories of tragedy and loss, but there were also smiles as the Royal couple were granted an audience with a koala.

The Duke and Duchess were touted to visit Australia’s fire-affected regions this year, but the trip was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two people died and about half the island — including 96 per cent of Flinders Chase National Park — was ravaged by bushfires in December and January.

Prince William said he and Catherine “always feel the community spirit” when they are in Australia.

“Aussies are always looking out for each other and it’s fantastic to see you’re all pulling together,” he said.

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park’s Dana Mitchell introduced the pair to Grace the koala — one of many marsupials rescued and rehabilitated after the fires.

Screen grab of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke with Kangaroo Island locals.(Twitter: @KensingtonRoyal)

“She’s gaining weight pretty well and loves her bottle, and pretty much just sleeps all the time,” Ms Mitchell told the Duke and Duchess.

It’s estimated that more than 30,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island perished due to the fires, as well as 100,000 sheep, and several endangered species were put at increased risk of extinction.

Many more animals died on the Australian mainland in other bushfires over summer, prompting the Federal Government to pledge $50 million for affected wildlife.

The Duke and Duchess also acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Kangaroo Island’s residents rebuilding their lives.

Local relishes ‘surreal’ chat with royals

Steph Wurst lost her house in the Kangaroo Island bushfires but was one of the few who met with the Royal couple.

“To speak with them — it was an amazing experience, quite surreal actually, but such an honour and privilege,” she said.

“I admit I did get a little bit tongue-tied but they’re so natural and down-to-earth it wasn’t long before we were all in a pretty relaxed conversation.”

An aerial view of grey and greenish smoke from a bushfire on Kangaroo Island
A bushfire approaches the town of Parndarna on Kangaroo Island.(Instagram: Trent Lawson/tmanadventure)

Ms Wurst said the couple wanted to hear about residents’ stories and how they are recovering.

“It’s such a big boost for our local community, to know that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge care about us, genuinely care about us and our recovery. It really means a lot to us.

“We had a few days to prepare prior to the call, and we also had to keep it under wraps for the last few days as well … we all kept it very quiet.”

Catherine and Prince William
Catherine and Prince William, Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, on their last SA visit in 2014.(AAP: Ben McMahon)

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Wanderers lose skipper as Mitch Duke seals move to Saudi Arabia

Western Sydney have lost a bidding war for their captain and top-scorer Mitch Duke, who turned down a renewed contract offer in favour of a lucrative deal in the Middle East.

Duke announced his departure from the Wanderers on Thursday, suggesting the club’s proposal to retain him made for a “difficult” choice, but was one that could not compete with the offer abroad.

Splitting ways: Duke leaves the Wanderers for Saudi Arabia.

Splitting ways: Duke leaves the Wanderers for Saudi Arabia. Credit:Getty

As revealed by the Herald on August 7, Duke had agreed to personal terms with a Saudi Arabian club now revealed to be Al-Taawoun, to pursue the next chapter of his career. The Wanderers would have had to offer a marquee deal to entice him to stay, but conceded uncertainty around the finances for next season, including their share of the broadcast revenue and the competition’s salary cap, meant they were not in a position to outbid Al-Taawoun.

“The offer from the Wanderers made it very difficult for me to make this decision, but I have been presented an amazing opportunity in Asia that is in the best interests of my family, and it is one that I couldn’t turn down,” Duke said.

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Coronavirus: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Barry Island

Prince William and Catherine at the arcadeImage copyright
ITN Pool

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Prince William and Catherine visited Island Leisure amusement arcade – the setting for “Nessa’s Slots” where Ruth Jones’s character Nessa worked

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have heard how businesses and families have struggled in the pandemic during a visit to south Wales.

The royal couple were at Barry Island which is home to TV comedy Gavin and Stacey, but William admitted he has never watched the show.

They also played games at an arcade which was the setting for Nessa’s Slots in the series.

Later, they met residents and their family members at a Cardiff care home.

Prince William and Catherine heard how people had struggled with being unable to visit their loved ones at the height of lockdown.

While the Duchess was pictured days earlier wearing a face mask during a visit to a baby bank in Sheffield, face coverings are not mandatory in Wales, except on public transport.

Last year about 424,000 visitors headed to Barry Island to play on the slot machines and enjoy the seaside resort, well known to fans of Gavin and Stacey.

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ITN Pool

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The royal couple visited the arcade where Nessa, of hit TV show Gavin and Stacey, worked

William and Catherine toured the haunts of the comedy drama’s characters – the arcade where Nessa worked and Stacey’s employer Marco’s cafe – but the duke confessed to never having seen the popular series.

“It’s one of the few boxsets I haven’t already watched. I’ve never actually watched it,” he said.

“But I know how much it has done for the economy here and it’s a wonderful series.”

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Gavin and Stacey ran for three series and returned for a special last Christmas after a 10 year absence

With pubs, cafes and restaurants only able to reopen indoors from Monday, businesses told the royal couple how lockdown had impacted them.

The change in lockdown rules also meant groups of up to 30 people have been able to meet outdoors and many young children are able to play with their friends for the first time since lockdown began.

The royal couple also visited the beach huts on the promenade, installed as part of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s £6m regeneration project.

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William and Catherine wore face masks on their visit to a care home

Later in the day they travelled to Shire Hall Care Home in Cardiff, where they spoke to staff, residents and their family members in the home’s garden.

In May, the royal couple hosted a bingo game for residents at the home via video link, and got to meet some of them in person during the visit.

At the time, Joan Drew-Smith, 87, made headlines when she said the royal bingo game “wasn’t as good as it should have been”.

And when the duke introduced himself during the visit to the home by saying: “Hello Joan, do you remember we did the bingo with you? You said we weren’t very good.”

She swore in her reply when describing what she thought of their efforts – which the couple laughed at.

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Media captionBingo! William and Kate call the numbers to help keep up spirits at a Cardiff care home on a previous visit

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Prince William meets Peter Crouch: Duke of Cambridge on lockdown, Twitter and mental health

The guest on this week’s That Peter Crouch Podcast is none other than Prince William.

As president of the Football Association, the Duke of Cambridge has been keen to use his role to start conversations around mental health, including helping to rename the 2020 FA Cup final the Heads Up FA Cup final.

“We’re hoping that renaming it is a big enough statement that the UK will show the world, and the football world in particular, that mental health really matters,” William – making his first appearance on a podcast – tells Crouch.

The podcast team met William at Kensington Palace before lockdown – and even shared a curry – before a follow-up Zoom call this month.

Here are the highlights:

Football is more important to him now he’s a parent

Prince William says he finds it very important to talk to people about football

Asked if football is his “release”, William replies: “It is now. Since becoming a dad, without a doubt, football has become way more important than it used to be.

“I need to go and be amongst other guys and let out some steam, shout a bit,” he explains, joking he stops short of abusing the referee. “I’m the president of the FA and I can’t do that!”

William adds: “It has become a lot more relevant to me and I need it. Talking about football helps a lot.”

Later in the podcast, he says: “This period of time has allowed us to all revalue things. The thing about lockdown is that it has been a little bit of an awakening that we maybe take our lives a bit for granted sometimes and there’s a lot of things out there that can wobble all of us at any time.

“I think particularly now, as a parent, it starts to make you look a bit more to the future at what kind of world we are going to hand over to the next generation. There’s been a lot of time to think – and you can also have too much time to think, and that’s also what worries me.”

He is in the ‘yes to crowd noise’ camp

William says he really missed football during its hiatus.

“I was trying to pretend I didn’t care too much it wasn’t around,” he says. “But by the end of the third weekend, I was really missing it. It just goes with the weekend.”

And he’s all for having crowd noise in empty stadiums.

“It’s better than hearing the players puffing and swearing at each other,” he says.

His lockdown experience sounds quite relatable

What are among the things a royal worries about during lockdown? Home-schooling and keeping young kids entertained, apparently.

“I found it pretty testing, trying to keep the children engaged and interested in some sort of work,” he says. “It’s been an interesting few months.

“I’ve learned my patience is a lot shorter than I thought it was! That’s probably the biggest eye-opener for me, and my wife has super patience.”

He goes on to admit he’s struggled with year two maths. Comforting.

He chose Aston Villa because he didn’t want to be a glory hunter

Watching his beloved Villa

Prince William is famously a Villa fan. He says he fell in love during his first trip to an FA Cup game – Villa against Bolton – when he was 11.

“I sat there amongst all the Villa fans and I loved it. I thought the atmosphere was great,” he recalls.

He says at the time he “desperately” didn’t want to support “someone like Manchester United or Chelsea” – like everyone else at school did.

He was also attracted to Villa’s proud history – William was born in 1982, when they, as English champions, won the European Cup.

“I felt a real connection with the club,” he says. “I felt Villa was a very proud Midlands club and it felt very special.

“Only in the last few years have I got a grip of Villa as my real team and I watch them a lot and I get into the stats.”

He wears shin pads for six-a-side

After being put on the spot, William says he’s the only person in his team who wears shin pads.

There is a good reason.

“In school, I basically got targeted the whole time,” says William, who says he usually plays at right-back.

Apparently, aged 15, he once asked a police officer with him to use a laser pen and ‘red dot’ one of the opposition players.

“I kept saying to him, ‘see, he’s following you’,” William laughed: “It put him off for about 10 minutes!”

He wants Grealish in the England squad

When Crouch and the team ask William if – in his role as president of the FA, he might get rid of Gareth Southgate were England to have a bad run of games – he concedes that “that might be a bit difficult!”.

“Gareth is a legend, I really like Gareth and I think he’s doing a great job with the England team,” he says.

“That’s not to say that conversations haven’t been had where I give him a little nudge and say: ‘Why isn’t Grealish in the England squad?'” he jokes.

He doesn’t play Football Manager because he thinks he’d get too addicted

“That would be the end of my life – you’d never see me on a balcony again,” he says. “I’d be locked in.”

He met Ian Holloway on a stag do

William tells a great story about watching Blackpool, then managed by Ian Holloway, on a stag do with friends from the Royal Air Force.

Apparently the manager came to meet the group at half-time, which William says surprised him – given he should probably have been delivering his team talk at that point.

“He was just like, ‘there’s no point doing a team talk, they’re not listening anyway’,” William says.

He’s not allowed to tweet from the official @KensingtonRoyal account

“They deliberately keep me away from that. When Liverpool won that amazing Champions League semi-final against Barcelona [in May 2019], I grabbed hold of the Twitter thing and just posted.

“It was an amazing match, I was blown away by it. It was one of the best games of football I’ve ever seen. I got completely out of control. I was like: ‘Tweet that! Get it out!’

“And nearly every Villa match we’ve won – which isn’t many this season – I’ve been trying to get hold of it, but they keep it away from me now.”

He’s concerned about England players’ mental health

“I’ve met a lot of players. It’s very interesting, how different sports and different teams behave in a changing room,” William says.

“Whenever I go into the England dressing room there does always feel a lot more pressure. I don’t know what it is, but you do notice guys find it much more difficult to relax.

“We talk about physical fitness. We never really talk about mental fitness. We all need to stay mentally fit, none more so than professional athletes who – under special circumstances playing for England under huge pressure – have got to have their heads razor sharp as well as their feet and legs.”

His karaoke song is Bohemian Rhapsody

And the answer to the question you never realised that you had always wanted to know. It would be Queen, wouldn’t it?

“It’s one of the few songs I know all the lyrics to,” he explains.

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