THE Duchess of Cornwall tried out a cutting edge bit of kit during a celebratory visit to Prospect Hospice.

The long-standing royal and hospice president spoke to clients, volunteers and staff to mark the charity’s 40th anniversary, bringing warmth and laughter on a chilly winter's day.

While chatting to Sonia Cox and mum Mary about their experiences, a virtual reality headset caught her eye - so she tried it on for herself. She said: “It’s quite extraordinary, I could get addicted to that!”

Sonia explained that the VR app had been so successful at soothing her pain that she’d bought her own headset for home use.

The duchess spent a busy hour at Prospect, meeting Wiltshire's great and good who gathered to greet her before sitting down to talk with members of a support group for the newly-bereaved.

Ann Hatcher said the group had helped her immensely after she spent the first Christmas and new year without her husband.

She added: "I nursed him at home until the last week of his life, which I spent here with the children, I never left his side. We were so well-looked after and welcome. This place is like a big umbrella."

Pat Cavill agreed: "It's made a big difference, the carers are amazing and it's great to have continuity of care with groups like this one.

"The duchess was so lovely, down-to-earth and informal, she had real insight and empathy. It felt like she would have been happy to stay all afternoon."

The group hope to send a message back to the duchess: "Her visit had a huge impact and left everyone here feeling uplifted following a very difficult festive period."

Her tour of the Wroughton HQ ended with the unveiling of a new embroidery depicting Savernake Forest through the seasons, designed and hand-sewn by the Marlborough Embroiderers Guild over four-and-a-half years.

Last but not least, the duchess brought an anniversary cake made specially to commemorate the hospice entering its 40th year.

She added: "Everyone thinks a hospice is a sad and depressing place but they're quite the opposite, they're uplifting, especially this one. I am very proud to be its president.

"Thank you to the wonderful ladies for making this stunning artwork and thank you to everyone here for all that you do, it's wonderful and so important."

Chief executive Irene Watkins said: "This was a lovely boost for the staff and all their hard work. The duchess took her time and talked to everybody, and she got hands-on

"The embroidery is exquisite, it shows how much the community means to us and how much we mean to them. It will hang in the Prospect unit at Savernake hospital.

"As we head into our 40th year, we want to do a lot of events and take a different approach to them. We want to involve young people more in the hospice and host different projects. Watch this space."

The duchess’s visit to came almost a year to the day since her last trip to the Swindon area on January 24 2019, when she had a double-bill of literary events as part of her work as patron of the National Literacy Trust.