Serenity team ‘honoured’ by Queen’s invite to Palace | Our latest updates

Serenity team ‘honoured’ by Queen’s invite to Palace

Queen Camilla meeting the Serenity team

It was an “honour and a privilege” to be invited by Her Majesty The Queen to a special event, at Buckingham Palace, held to recognise organisations who support survivors of rape and sexual assault.

Those were the words of Fay Wickett and Maria Hutchinson, from Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Serenity sexual assault referral centre (SARC), who were among SARC representatives from all over the country invited to the event hosted by Her Majesty The Queen.

The special occasion was held at Buckingham Place, on 1 May 2024, with approximately 300 invited guests in attendance.

Queen Camilla was helping relaunch the Wash Bags Project – a practical way of helping women and girls, and men, following a forensic examination, to provide some comfort at such a distressing time. The scheme was initially set up by Her Majesty The Queen (then the Duchess of Cornwall) over 10 years ago, with every survivor of rape and sexual abuse, cared for at UK SARCS, receiving a wash bag.

Now, the Wash Bags Project has been relaunched with charity In Kind Direct, working with Boots who provide the personal care items for the wash bags – including shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste and a toothbrush – providing a small gesture of comfort during a highly distressing time for people using the service. Since the partnership began, 5,000 washbags have been distributed to 58 SARCs across the UK.

Serenity team Fay and Maria outside Buckingham Palace Fay Wickett, manager of NHFT’s Serenity service, said: “It was an honour and privilege to represent NHFT and Serenity Services at this event. It was very humbling to observe how many different organisations were involved in supporting survivors of sexual assault. We were able to network with other SARCs, voluntary organisations, and we even had conversations with Her Majesty The Queen and Theresa May!”

Maria said: “I am truly blessed in my two roles as Independent Sexual Violence Advisor and Crisis Worker at Serenity SARC, to work alongside a fantastic team, and have the pleasure to support my incredible clients who inspire and motivate me, to do what I do every day. Going to Buckingham Palace and meeting Queen Camilla was magical. To share this day with like-minded people from organisations who also advocate for combating sexual violence, and genuinely want to make change, was awe-inspiring. An unforgettable experience.”

Serenity invite to Buckingham Palace group photo HRH Queen Camilla has been highlighting organisations supporting victims of rape and sexual assault for over 10 years as a part of her mission to combat violence against women. During the event, she made a moving speech highlighting the importance of this mission, the strides that have been made and the essential work that still needs to be done.

The Queen said: “Your stories and your experiences are vital tools as we seek to bring about change: to forge a world in which people, whoever and wherever they are, do not live in fear of being abused. As I have often heard victims say: speaking about the experience is one of the key ways to survive it. By sharing with one another today, we can strengthen our alliance against sexual abuse in all its forms.”

Read the full speech delivered by The Queen at the reception here.

To find out more about NHFT’s Serenity sexual assault referral centre visit

Pictured: HRH Queen Camilla meeting staff from NHFT's Serenity, and Fay and Maria outside Buckingham Palace (official photos courtesy of Ian Jones Photography)



To help understand how people use our site we use statistical cookies, as well as one cookie to make the site work properly and one cookie which remembers your choices if you accept cookies. We also use one cookie which helps us with marketing our services. Find out more about our cookies and how you can manage them


Please choose a setting: