THE Prince of Wales was welcomed to Wrexham this afternoon as he visited a global pharmaceutical company.
Wockhardt UK welcomed His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) to its Wrexham manufacturing facility which has reserved capacity to allow for the supply of multiple vaccines to the UK government in its fight against COVID-19.
Wockhardt UK specialises in the manufacture of sterile injectables and is one of the largest generic pharmaceutical companies in the UK with the capability to manufacture on a large-scale.
The factory is a main supplier to the NHS and has had a site in Wrexham for more than 20 years. It employs more than 500 people at the 612,000sq ft high-tech factory.
Prince Charles was introduced to staff and apprentices and was given a tour of the Quality Control Laboratory where 300 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine are currently being produced.
He was then shown how the drug substance and raw materials are stored before unveiling a plaque outside.
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While acknowledging the visit as a mark of honour, the Founder Chairman of Wockhardt Dr. Habil Khorakiwala said: “The visit today by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales demonstrates recognition of our global strength in sterile injectable facilities and capacity.
“With four decades of expertise and experience behind us, we have been able to quickly rise to the occasion, scale up the manufacture of the vaccines and assist in mitigating the worldwide impact of COVID-19.”
Wockhardt UK has been instrumental in the manufacture of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine and carries out the ‘fill and finish’ stage of the vaccine manufacturing process. The firm has a manufacturing contract with the UK Government in place until August 2022. This involves dispensing the COVID-19 vaccine into vials ready for it to be sent out across the country.
Wockhardt UK managing director Ravi Limaye said: “This is a huge moment for all of us to have His Royal Highness today at our facility. I think it is a humbling experience, a recognition for all the efforts put in by the team over the last 12 to 18 months in getting the vaccines across to the vaccination centres in the UK. I think it’s a great experience and something we are all proud of.
“He was very interested in the process. He was very interested in talking to people in manufacturing, quality control and our analysts. I think overall he looked very interested and very thankful for all that we have done.”
The visit comes eight months after Wockhardt welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who thanked staff for their hard work, saying that the vaccines could provide the “salvation for humanity.”
Prince Charles met staff and apprentices where he was talked through the work they do on site.
Nerys Roscoe has been at the company for 20 years and she said it was lovely working on something huge knowing you are ‘making a difference’.
She told the Leader: “I’ve worked my way up, I started as a cleaner and worked my way up gradually over the last 20 years and they’ve just made me a team leader.
“Lately I’ve been doing most of the training with new people so I’ve been working on the vaccine since it all started. We’ve been to Germany and since we’ve got back it’s been non-stop but it’s been really interesting.
“We have never done anything like this, it’s good working on such a big thing.
“It’s a bit daunting meeting the Prince, everyone said it’s the quietest I’ve been. He was asking about my role and training, how many I train. There’s 20 at the moment, we have a huge influx of people.”
Leading the tour around the laboratory was Maggie Mutete, Senior QC Analyst, who said the Prince was ‘lovely’ and it was a ‘nice surprise’.
She added that working on the vaccine ‘keeps them on their toes’ and is ‘nice to be a part of’ knowing they are helping ‘save the world’.
Ravi Limaye, Managing Director Wockhardt UK added it was a ‘great honour’ to welcome Prince Charles to witness the ‘pride and purpose’ of the Wockhardt team.
Dr. Murtaza Khorakiwala, Managing Director and Global CEO of Wockhardt said: “We are delighted to showcase our innovation, talent and expertise at Wockhardt UK to His Royal Highness. We are committed to the cause and can be a key partner globally in fighting the world’s most demanding need of the hour during COVID-19.”
Earlier today, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales visited Iceland Foods’ head office in Deeside
Iceland is celebrating its 50th year on the high street and recently opened its 1000th store.
During the visit The Prince met with frontline retail heroes from Iceland’s ‘Feed the Nation’ effort, commending their dedication throughout the pandemic.
Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland Foods, said: “It was a pleasure to host His Royal Highness at Deeside, 34 years after his first visit to our head office. Today’s visit came during a crucial year for our business, marking 50 years of serving the UK’s communities on high streets across the country.
“Our people have been core to our success and the visit celebrated their ongoing dedication and commitment especially during the pandemic, which has proven to be one of the most challenging periods in our history.”