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A date with the royals! Wolverhampton speech therapy expert set for Buckingham Palace garden party

A Wolverhampton healthcare star will meet royalty next week after being invited to a prestigious event at Buckingham Palace for her work in a specialised field close to the Royal Family’s heart.

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Charlotte Colesby, service manager for Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT), has been invited to a royal garden party by His Majesty the King next Tuesday, May 21.

The invite has come through the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) of which Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, is the Patron.

Speech and language therapy came to international prominence after King George VI was famously helped to manage his stammer by a speech therapist from the late 1920s into the mid-1940s.

Charlotte Colesby, Service Manager for Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT)

Charlotte, 54, is one of only two people from the 20,000-strong RCSLT to receive an invite to the gala event, to which 2,000 to 3,000 guests are set to attend.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled, I see it as a huge honour and I’m blown away by it to be honest. It’s something you don’t expect to happen.

“I don’t know which member of the Royal Family we will be meeting yet but I’m very much looking forward to the occasion and to seeing the gardens of Buckingham Palace. I’m really excited and have bought a full new outfit – and umbrella in case it rains – as we have to wear a hat or fascinator.”

Charlotte has received the invite in thanks for her work with the RCSLT on influencing, leadership and workforce, which she started last October. She made national news in a campaign promoting SLTs in April 2023.

She has been an observer to the cross-party Parliamentary group for SLTs, meeting MPs and peers in the House of Lords, which she started before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The mum of two grown-up children, who lives in Stourbridge, has been at RWT since November 2017, leading a team of 78 staff, based at The Gem Centre in Wednesfield, near New Cross Hospital.

Qualified for more than 30 years, she has worked across the Black Country Integrated Care System in various NHS roles.

Her team provides speech, language, communication and swallowing assessment and therapy in acute settings and the community for adults and children, and has a dedicated administrative team.

One day a week she is seconded as interim Deputy Allied Health Professional (AHP) to Dr Ros Leslie, Chief AHP at RWT.

Charlotte has been bowled over by the reaction of colleagues.

She said: “People are thrilled for me and have been saying ‘bring us some photos and tell us all about it’, which is lovely.

“I think it’s brilliant that SLTs are being recognised. AHPs are a crucial part of the healthcare workforce – they are the third largest group in the NHS.”

It’s not the first time Charlotte will have met royalty. When she was 19, she visited St James’ Palace and was part of a group introduced to Prince Philip after earning her gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.