AN appeal to raise £1 million for a vital piece of equipment at Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital received the Royal seal of approval this week.

The Countess of Wessex dropped by to find out more about the campaign to fund a third MRI scanner.

She toured the hospital's radiology department, met staff and was given demonstrations of how the advanced machinery works.

The Countess, the wife of the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward, was at Musgrove in her capacity of Royal patron of the MRI Million appeal run by Love Musgrove, the hospital's official charity.

She watched a video of a scanner in action and was given a presentation by radiology consultant Joanna Brown.

The Countess also chatted to lead A&E consultant James Gagg about the unprecedented pressures caused by records numbers of patients presenting.

At one stage she expressed her view that wealthier people should be asked to pay more for treatment on the NHS.

Following her time at the hospital, the Countess of Wessex attended a reception at the Cooper Associates County Ground, where she was greeted by some of the players.

She had earlier arrived by helicopter at Queen's College, where she was presented with a posy of flowers by junior school pupil Thomas Taylor and spent time chatting to Year 3 youngsters and head teacher Tracey Khodabandehloo.

The Love Musgrove MRI Million appeal, supported by the County Gazette, has so far raised almost £700,000 through grants, sponsored events and individual donations, including an anonymous cheque for £10,000.

PHOTOS: Musgrove Park Hospital.