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Neuro-rehabilitation fundraiser gets Royal reply

Image shows Barbara sat in her arm chair holding the letter from the Prince and Princess of Wales.

A former patient who raised over £3,000 for the service which helped her after she suffered a brain injury over a decade ago has had the Royal seal of approval for her efforts.

Barbara Thomas, from Cymmer completed her Aberavon Seafront fundraising walk in March 2023 to raise money for the Neuro-Rehabilitation Unit at Neath Port Talbot Hospital. She wanted to give something back to those who cared for her after a brain injury 13 years ago.

Image shows Barbara sat in her arm chair holding the letter from the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The money is going towards a sensory garden for the unit. It is currently being planned and designed, but it’s hoped to become a reality soon.

Before her walk, without telling anyone, Barbara wrote to the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate, to see if they could take time out of their visit to South Wales to join her on the fundraising walk. On the same week, the royal couple were in Aberavon Leisure Centre talking about sport services supporting mental health and well-being. The leisure centre was across the road from the where the walk was taking place.

“It would be wonderful if you could join me.” Barbara said in her letter.

She explained: “I wrote to them because I know how energetic they are and that they love doing things like this for people.”

Unfortunately, the Royals did not visit Barbara and the team on their walk. Nevertheless, it was a great day and she raised over £3,000 for the unit.

“I didn’t say anything to anybody about it on the walk, just in case they didn’t come. I was disappointed,” she admitted.

But seven months after the walk, Barbara got an unexpected response to her letter.

Her husband Des picked up the pile of post that had dropped on the front doormat in their house, when he noticed a special envelope.

“When the letter dropped on the doormat Des asked me who I had written to this time,” she laughed.

The shocked yet excited Barbara opened the envelope to see a letter on behalf of their Royal Highnesses.

“It said ‘Kensington Palace’ on the stamp mark. When I opened it I was so surprised and blown away, I’ve kept it all.”

The letter thanked her for writing to them and apologised for the delay in their response.

Image shows the full letter written to Barbara from the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The letter reads:

Dear Mrs Thomas,

The Prince and Princess of Wales have asked me to thank you for your kind letter regarding your Aberavon Seafront Challenge. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in replying to you. I do hope that you understand.

Their Royal Highnesses were most heartened to hear that you have recovered from your period of ill health, and were delighted to hear of your plans to complete a sponsored walk to raise money for Neath Port Talbot Hospital’s Neuro-Rehabilitation Unit. You dedication is truly inspiring.

The Prince and Princess would have me thank you again for taking the time to write as you did, Their Royal Highnesses have asked me to pass on their very best wishes, as well as their sincere hopes that the event was a success.

 “I put a lot of effort into my letter and made sure I used the correct form of address. I am a big Royalist and I am proud of it,” said Barbara.

“For someone that feels more down than up, the whole experience was great for me.”

Even though the letter came months after the walk had finished, it was a great morale booster for Barbara and made the whole experience memorable.

This wasn’t the only time Barbara had written to a member of the Royal family. She had previously written to the late Queen Elizabeth, expressing her disappointment not being able to meet her and shake her hand during a visit to South Wales, and also received a response to that letter.

Cathy Stevens, Swansea Bay Health Charity’s Community Support Officer was delighted to hear that Barbara had received recognition for the fundraising event. “Barbara was like Queen Bee on the Seafront during the walk, she got everyone involved and raised all that money on her own.”

Go here to read our original press release on Barbara's fundraising walk. 

Image of Swansea Bay health charity logo

Swansea Bay Health Charity

Are you interested in raising money to support NHS services in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot? Did you know that Swansea Bay University Health Board has its own fundraising charity?

Swansea Bay Health Charity supports patients, staff and services within Swansea Bay University Health Board. Visit its webpage here to find out more.

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth a galwadau ffôn yn y Gymraeg neu'r Saesneg. Atebir gohebiaeth Gymraeg yn y Gymraeg, ac ni fydd hyn yn arwain at oedi. Mae’r dudalen hon ar gael yn Gymraeg drwy bwyso’r botwm ar y dde ar frig y dudalen.

We welcome correspondence and telephone calls in Welsh or English. Welsh language correspondence will be replied to in Welsh, and this will not lead to a delay. This page is available in Welsh by clicking ‘Cymraeg’ at the top right of this page.