The Duchess of Cornwall has spoken for the first time since emerging from self-isolation - saying the one thing she misses the most is “not being able to hug her grandchildren”.
Camilla, 72, emerged from spending a fortnight on her own today to salute the biggest recruitment of volunteers since the Second World War.
An unprecedented mobilisation will see checks completed on three quarters of a million kind-hearted Brits by the end of tomorrow.
NHS Volunteer Responders will be mobilised for the next three months in the battle to keep 1.4 million vulnerable people with serious conditions alive.
In her first job since being forced to spend time away from husband Prince Charles, after he tested positive for Covid-19, Camilla made a “check in and chat” call with Doris Winfield, 85, who has also spent the last two weeks self-isolating.
The two women chatted for 20 minutes, Mrs Winfield from her home in from Rickmansworth, and Camilla from the royal’s Scottish estate of Birkhall about their families and hobbies.
A palace source said: “The Duchess of Cornwall and Doris chatted about a number of different topics, including how difficult it was being separated from family, but that being able to see them digitally helped enormously.
“The Duchess said the most difficult thing about being in isolation was not being able to hug her grandchildren.
“The Duchess and Doris also discussed reading and how much they both enjoyed a good book – particularly Agatha Christie.”
Volunteers will deliver food and medication to those who cannot leave their homes, drive them to and from hospital and call them by phone to check how they are.
Volunteers will also be able to declare themselves “live” on the GoodSAM app from today and be issued jobs by medics and pharmacists.
The unprecedented response from 750,000 volunteers who came forward in just four days has seen the scheme expanded.
It was originally intended to help “shield” 1.4 million people with the most severe conditions such as cancer.
The scheme, run by the Royal Volunteer Service for which Camilla is president, will now be able to help shield 2.5 million Brits.
These those with less severe conditions but who are still at heightened risk of death if they contract Covid-19.
Camilla said: “Everyone working in the NHS is under unimaginable pressure day and night in this crisis.
“I feel sure that the presence of so many wonderful volunteers will encourage, as well as support, them. I salute each one of you and thank you with all my heart.”
Health workers and local authorities can upload requests for help and volunteers pick the job they want to do that day and close the task once complete.
The Duchess was formerly married to Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, and had two children, Thomas Henry and Laura Rose.
She has five grandchildren and four step-grandchildren from Prince Charles’s side.
Mrs Winfield, who lives alone but has three daughters who she regularly speaks to, told Camilla who is President of the charity delivering the volunteer effort, The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), “how she misses her friends and the active social life she used to enjoy”.
The Duchess - who did not have coronavirus symptoms but was advised to isolate on account of her age and exposure to the disease from Charles - discussed her joy of reading with Mrs Winfield while the pair shared their love of Agatha Christie.
Mrs Winfield revealed: “Having a chat with The Duchess of Cornwall meant the world to me.
“I’ve been incredibly lonely over the last couple of weeks and it was wonderful to talk to her.
“We talked about life in isolation and shared hobbies, she was very interested in my family and how I was coping without them.
“It’s really cheered me up!”
The volunteer drive has now been paused while those who have signed up are processed.
The Mirror understands it could be restarted to recruit volunteers to help other vital public services.
Volunteers show themselves as available when their app is switched to “on duty”.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who has himself recovered from Covid-19, said: “Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our country has faced.
“It is truly awe inspiring to see our whole nation coming together to help each other at this difficult time.
“I want to thank every single person who signed up to be a NHS Volunteer Responder – their incredible generosity means we can now start helping those most in need across our communities and, in turn, support our heroic NHS staff and social care staff as they continue their outstanding work.”