“Did you get much support afterwards?” he asked. “Proper support? “If you don’t get that space to deal with it, it can linger. It’s quite scary. Did the guy go to jail?
“It’s very impressive, the way you’re all here in spite of everything you’ve had to deal with. Thank goodness you’ve got each other.”
The Duke went on to meet other nominees for the awards, hosted by The Sun.
One of the youngest, up for the Young Hero award, was Lucas Palmer, eight, who saved his four-year-old brother Louis’ life after he fell into a freezing cold river, diving him to help him.
‘It must have been very scary for you’
Asking them how old they were and what happened, he clarified “so he plopped in the water?” as he congratulated Lucas for his actions.
“It must have been very scary for you. You’re a very very brave boy, it’s very impressive. Well done you guys, I’m so glad you’re all ok.”
He went on to listen in amazement as Professor Keyoumars Ashkan from King’s College Hospital described operating on a violinist who played throughout her brain surgery so he could make sure her brain was not harmed.
“Did you make sure she played a calm and quiet piece,” he quipped, gesticulating out-of-control hands. “Not something fast otherwise you’d have your hands going around.”
Next up were Joel Gibbard and Samantha Payne, founders of Open Bionics, which created the “Hero Arm”: a lightweight and affordable prosthesis for below-elbow amputees, which now comes in a range of Disney covers for children.
One of their children, nine-year-old Phoebe Sinclair, showed him her robotic arm, smiling as he asked: “Do your friends think it’s so cool?”
Approaching a group from the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine team, nominated for the “groundbreaking pioneer or discovering team”, the Duke greeted them like old friends and reminisced about his visit to their labs.
Hailing their pioneering work which changed the course of the pandemic, he said he had been impressed to see the UK “punching above its weight” in research.
“In all these areas, the world is watching us now,” he said.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard and Professor Teresa Lambe OBE emphasised afterwards that the vaccine had also been an international effort, with a multicultural team based in Oxford.
One of the lighter moments of the evening came as the Duke spoke to Captain Shaun Rose, a pilot with Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) team, who were recognised for the “nerve-shredding” rescue of Highlands walker Duncan Stevenson, who “died seven times” while flying through a snowstorm to hospital.