Swapna's royal visit

The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust’s Swapna Narayananmaniyatan, had the honour of meeting King Charles III at a reception at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday. The reception was held to celebrate the contribution of International Nurses and Midwives working in the UK’s Health and Social Care Sector.

Swapna shaking hands with the King surrounded by other excited visitors to the Palace

Swapna stood outside Buckingham PalaceIt was a double celebration for the King as he also marked his 75th birthday.

Each region could invite 20 people to attend, and Chief Nurse, Helen Dobson, was asked by NHS England to nominate a member of staff thanks to our Trust’s impressive work around international recruitment and retention. 

Helen nominated Swapna because of her impact since joining the Trust as an international recruit. “[Since joining], Swapna has progressed into a leadership role. She provides ongoing support in the recruitment and onboarding of other international nurses. She has also successfully achieved the Professional Nurse Advocate (PNA) qualification and uses that to support all her nursing colleagues, not just international recruits.”

Swapna, Sister in Charge on the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) at Rotherham Hospital, was delighted when she received news that she was heading to the palace, although it took a while to sink in: “I was asleep when I got the call. I just thought, ‘this is a rare experience’.

“I’d heard it was quite scary [going to the palace] but it all went very smoothly and wasn’t scary at all. Everybody was so polite.”

It was an experience not to be forgotten for Swapna: “I felt like a billionaire – from head to toe I was posh. But only for one day!”

Swapna, originally from Kerala, India, has been with the Trust for three years and has fond memories of her own journey as an internationally educated nurse. She said: “When I first arrived, there was a really good team looking after us. We were like a family, the team kept us positive, I didn’t ever feel left out and they were very helpful. I never felt homesick.”

Swapna was full of praise for the King, saying: “He was very down to earth, making jokes and taking the time to speak to each of us. We even sang happy birthday to him!

“Some of my patients had asked me to say happy birthday on their behalf so I made sure to do that.”

It’s back to reality for Swapna now who has high hopes for what comes next: “I’m still looking ahead and would like to specialise in diabetes in the future.”