Meritxell Miret, an anatomical pathology technologist (APT) based at the Royal Free Hospital, is due to pay a very special visit to Windsor Castle next week after being nominated by her colleague for a prestigious award.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, will present the WISE COVID Unsung Heroes Awards 2022 on February 22. The awards celebrate women in STEM roles (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) that have been essential to society during the pandemic.

Meritxell is nominated for a WISE Diversity & Inclusion Award. She has been recognised for her work in setting up remote viewing for families of their deceased loved ones during the pandemic when visiting has been severely restricted.  The service was so well received that the mortuary service received several requests for assistance from other mortuaries to help set up an equivalent service. In announcing the finalists the award panel noted that  Meritxell's work had made a genuine difference to many people during a very difficult time.

She said: “I’m very honoured to even be nominated for this award and to be in such great company with my fellow nominees. In the early days of the pandemic it really upset me to think that families who thought their loved one would be home with them soon were then faced with the harsh reality of never seeing them in life or even in death ever again. I couldn’t bear to think of them not being given the opportunity to have that moment to say goodbye.

“That led me to access the ‘Attend Anywhere’ video call service that was already in use by the NHS. I used it to set up a virtual mortuary viewing room to enable the deceased’s family to have some time to spend time with their loved one. Families were so grateful to us for that – I think it was incredibly important for them to have that reassurance that not only had their loved one been cared for and respected when they were alive but also in death.”

Laura McMinn, mortuary manager at the Royal Free Hospital, said: “I nominated Meritxell for this award because she is an outstanding member of staff who always puts the needs of her patients first. We have worked some incredibly long hours and her dedication has been inspiring.”

Shaan Malhotra, group head of bereavement and mortuary services for the Royal Free London, said: “The team have worked incredibly hard over the past couple of years in difficult circumstances and I’m so proud of what we have all achieved. Meritxell is particularly to be commended for her innovative work and I’m extremely proud to have her in my team.”

Go here for the full list of finalists.

Pic: Meritxell Miret pictured in the mortuary at the Royal Free Hospital. Picture taken before wearing masks became mandatory.