The Countess of Wessex has become patron of the air ambulance service that helped save her life.
Sophie was airlifted to hospital from her home in Bagshot Park, Surrey, by Thames Valley Air Ambulance in 2001, when she suffered a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.
The countess, who was six weeks pregnant at the time, underwent a two and a half hour emergency operation at the King Edward VII’s Hospital, but lost her baby.
Sophie, who is married to the Queen’s youngest son the Earl of Wessex, has been a long-standing supporter of the service over the 18 years since then.
The charity, which has announced that the countess has become its royal patron, said in a statement: “Having personally benefited from its expert crew in 2001, the countess knows only too well how every day, anyone in the community could be in urgent need of the organisation’s vital emergency service.”
The countess personally thanked the crew who flew her to hospital – pilot Andy Busby and paramedic Tim Goddard – in 2002 at a dinner to raise funds for the service – then known as the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance.
Mr Busby said at the time: “She realises that it was very fortunate that the air ambulance was flying that day and was able to take her to hospital.”
Thames Valley Air Ambulance delivers advanced medical care to the most critically ill and injured patients across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
It receives no government or national lottery funding and now operates 19 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Its red helicopter is staffed with an expert pilot, doctor and paramedic and can reach anyone in need in the region within 15 minutes of take-off, while its road vehicles, known as Critical Care Response Cars, carry the same equipment as the helicopter.
Sir Tim Jenner, Thames Valley Air Ambulance’s chairman, said: “We are delighted that Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex has accepted our invitation of Royal Patronage.
“It reflects her long-standing interest in our service and formally recognises how vital our emergency service is to our community.
“With the countess’ support, we will continue to push the boundaries of advanced pre-hospital care to give our patients the best possible chance of survival and recovery.”
Sophie has gone on to have two children – 15-year-old Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and 11-year-old Viscount Severn.
The Duke of Cambridge, who was an air ambulance pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, recently became patron of the London Air Ambulance Charity 30th Anniversary Campaign.