The royal mom of two visited the base of the air ambulance that flew her to the hospital in 2001 when she suffered an ectopic pregnancy

By Simon Perry
September 03, 2020 11:48 AM
Advertisement
Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Sophie, the Countess of Wessex made a poignant visit to the air ambulance service that flew to her aid when she suffered a life-threatening emergency almost two decades ago.

Sophie, 55, suffered an ectopic pregnancy in 2001 and needed to be flown to the hospital by the helicopter crews.

The wife of the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward, went on to have two successful pregnancies, and her children Lady Louise and Viscount James Severn are now 16 and 12, respectively.

On Thursday, she visited the Thames Valley Air Ambulance base at White Waltham as they marked their 21st anniversary – and just ahead of a week of celebrations for the service across the U.K.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Sophie was given a tour of the TVAA helicopter and shown some of its advanced medical equipment. She also chatted with some of the crew and former patients as they talked about their life-changing experiences. The charity is dedicating the anniversary of 21 years of service to its former patients and families, with its "Patients at Heart" campaign launching this month.

White Waltham Airfield was the charity's first operating base and it was from there that the air ambulance service was dispatched to tend to the royal in 2001. She was airlifted to a London hospital and underwent a 2-1/2 hour operation for the potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Sophie, who was appointed royal patron of the service in January 2019,  has stayed in touch with them amid lockdown in April, joining one of TVAA’s weekly crew video calls to hear how the charity’s paramedics and doctors were responding to the pandemic.

They spoke about their redeployment in support of the NHS frontline effort and treating the most severely-ill COVID-19 patients in hospitals within the region while continuing to provide a pre-hospital critical care service.