Earlier this week we welcomed a very special visitor to Swindon.

The Duchess of Cornwall, was kind enough to pay a visit to the Civic Offices to meet the members of staff who have been on the frontline supporting the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

It was a pleasure to meet The Duchess and it was one of the first official engagements for our new Mayor, Coun Garry Perkins, who was elected by a virtual meeting of the full council back in May.

During The Duchess’s visit, she met members of staff and volunteers who have been involved in our Live Well Hub, which has distributed food packages to vulnerable people as well as carried out thousands of telephone welfare checks to isolated residents who have been shielding from the virus.

This food delivery service, which has been operating from Lydiard Park since the lockdown was first put in place, has been a valuable lifeline for those with no family support network and who have been unable to get out and about to pick up essentials.

And on Monday, Her Royal Highness lent a helping hand by putting the finishing touches to our 1,000th food box.

I am delighted to say that this particular box has since been delivered and the resident who received it was astonished to hear it had been hand-packed by a member of the Royal Family.

The boxes contain everything from basic fruit and veg packages to more substantial amounts of meat and fish, with vegetarian options available.

A small band of council staff and volunteers have been packing the boxes and delivering them to those in need. Volunteers have also been delivering medicine and prescriptions to people who need them and who can’t get to the pharmacy.

This network of volunteers and council staff really has been vital to ensuring some of our most vulnerable residents have not been forgotten about during this difficult period. Indeed, over the past few months the Council’s social media channels have been filled with stories of volunteers going above and beyond to support those in need, and it has been heart-warming to see so many positive comments from people right across the borough.

It’s fair to say that the lockdown has not been easy. Isolation is not a natural and happy state for many of us and the challenges this has brought in terms of our mental health cannot be understated.

But to everybody who has gone out of their way to ensure their fellow residents have been kept safe and well, I would like to day a massive thank you on behalf of everybody at the Council – we couldn’t have done it without you.