PRINCE Charles has sent a personal video message to Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in which he voices his “heartfelt thanks and kindest wishes” to staff for their work during the pandemic.

The Prince of Wales describes how “humbled and deeply grateful” he and his family are for all their efforts in the fight against Covid-19.

And he congratulates the hospital – which he formally opened in December, 1970 – on achieving its 50th anniversary.

The video was shared with the trust's 3,000 staff and volunteers today.

Speaking from his Birkhall home in Scotland, the Prince of Wales shares his “memorable” recollections of his visit half a century ago, “particularly meeting all the staff”.

And he talks of his admiration for the hospital.

He said it was “hard to believe" it had been 50 years since he came to open the hospital, at Steeton, when he had been “especially struck by your beautiful location, surrounded by green hills on the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales” – an area which he said was very close to his heart.

The Prince said he was particularly pleased to hear about plans to plant 50 trees around the site to commemorate the anniversary, which he said “represents a real investment in the future”. He personally praised the gardening team for working "incredibly hard”.

He went on to acknowledge how this year has been “a profoundly difficult one for this country, and globally” and the “extraordinary challenges it has created for the NHS”.

The message was full of warmth and admiration for NHS staff.

He continued: “My heart has gone out to all of you working tirelessly to care for people affected by this cruel and indiscriminate virus.”

Prince Charles thanked staff for caring for patients and supporting their families and “for keeping the whole NHS ship afloat while at the same time having your own families to care for”.

He ended his message by wholeheartedly thanking staff. "Wherever you work, whatever job you do, you have all played a vital part in fighting this pandemic, as part of our remarkable NHS,” he said.

“I want to say to you all at Airedale that you occupy a very special place at the heart of your community and I know you will be the cornerstone of your community for the next 50 years.”

Brendan Brown, chief executive at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are deeply honoured and absolutely delighted that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has taken the time to make this very special message for our staff.

“It has been an extraordinary year, and certainly not the year of celebration that we had envisaged. However it has shown us what we’re capable of when really tested, and our people have done us proud, demonstrating astonishing dedication and professionalism in the face of a truly challenging situation. I know that this message from His Royal Highness will be a boost to them after all they’ve been through: it is a fitting way to honour the hospital’s 50th anniversary, and the trust’s commitment to providing services for the next 50 years.”