To mark Children’s Hospice Week, The Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Cambridge have taken part in a video call with three of their patronages, and a recently-bereaved family. You can see the call at the end of this post.
Camilla and Catherine discussed the care that hospice staff provide to children with life-limiting and conditions, as well as the way children’s hospices are able to create positive environments and happy memories during the most difficult of times for families.
Children’s Hospice Week 2020 is organised by the UK charity, Together for Short Lives, and takes place this week, 22-28 June. It celebrates the vital work these organisations do, and raises funds for the UK’s 54 children’s hospices.
“Thank you for Zooming to join Catherine and I today, at the beginning of Children’s Hospice Week,” said The Duchess of Cornwall.
Taking part in the royal call was Eddie Farwell, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Children’s Hospice South West; Claire Periton, Chief Executive of Helen & Douglas House; and the Delf Family, whose son received end-of-life care at East Anglia Children’s Hospices earlier this year.
Camilla spoke her her first experiences with children’s hospices, early on in her royal ‘career’, revealing she felt trepidation.
Not only have children’s hospices been supporting children and families during the pandemic, but also providing crucial additional capacity for NHS services, to prevent them from reaching breaking point.
Of course, the coronavirus has meant charity shop income and community fundraising is at an all-time low, so public support is needed now more than ever.
The Chief Executives of Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) and Helen & Douglas House, of which Camilla is patron, talked about how the coronavirus pandemic has forced children’s hospices to be a “agile” and adapt to ensure they still meet the changing needs of families, many of whom are shielding at home and will continue to do so for some time.
The Duchess of Cornwall has been Patron of Children’s Hospice South West since 2014, and Helen & Douglas House since 2007. The latter charity send children to Camilla’s annual Christmas tree decoration event at Clarence House.
Helen House in Oxford – now Helen & Douglas House – was the first and, for a time, the only children’s hospice in the world.
Eddie Farwell, together with his late wife, founded CHSW; two of their children, Kate and Tom, had a life-limiting illness, and died aged 11 and 15 respectively. The couple founded CHSW to bring what they experienced from Helen House to their own region, and CHSW now runs three hospices supporting families.
The Delf family, who lost their nine-year-old son Fraser earlier this year, shared their recent experience of East Anglian Children’s Hospices, which The Duchess of Cambridge supports; Catherine has been Patron of EACH since 2012.
EACH cares for children with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk(near to the Duchess’ country home) and Suffolk.
They discussed how they have faced lockdown as a recently-bereaved family and the importance of connecting with loved ones.
Fraser’s brother, 13-year-old Stuie, has been inspired by Captain Tom Moore to run 5km every day in May and has subsequently raised £15,000 for the hospice.
The Duchess of Cornwall, commending the work of children’s hospices at this difficult time said: “We’d like to thank everybody that works for hospices across the UK for the incredible job you do and allowing families to treasure their moments together.”
Speaking about the nurses and carers that look after children in hospices, The Duchess described them as “the most wonderful people” that “inspire happiness”.
The Duchess of Cambridge called the work of children’s hospices “extraordinary”, adding: “It’s a credit to the staff that they can provide the environment, the nurturing space for those families to help them go through long or short term care. It’s really awe-inspiring”.