To mark Children’s Hospice Week, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited East Anglia Children’s Hospices (EACH) at Milton on Thursday.
It was the first time William had accompanied Catherine to the hospice organisation, and came following the couple’s visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where they unveiled their first joint portrait.
The Duchess is Royal Patron of the charity, which supports children with life-limiting and terminal conditions in the area.
The couple were given a tour of the hospice, where they met children, young people and families who use services through EACH.
As parents to three young children, the Royals didn’t hesitate to get stuck in to the arts and crafts session.
Kate was seen telling eight-year-old Willow Bamber, ‘Don’t be shy!’ as the young girl painted the Duchess’ hand for a special art project. Willow then helped press Catherine’s hand onto the canvas.
William and Kate also met long-term staff members and volunteers. The hospice was originally opened by Diana, Princess of Wales on 1st August 1989.
EACH Chief Executive Phil Gormley said: “We very much enjoyed welcoming Their Royal Highnesses to Milton. It was the Duchess’s first public visit to Milton and the very first time we had the pleasure of welcoming the Duke to one of our hospices so it was a very special, memorable and momentous day for everyone connected with EACH.”
Mr Gormley also noted is ‘was the perfect opportunity to celebrate ten years since Her Royal Highness became our Royal Patron’. He said she ‘has been immensely supportive by championing our cause. Her continued support comes with warmth, empathy and understanding, including beyond public view, and her Patronage is enjoyed and appreciated by everyone at EACH.’
The Duchess also sent a message at the start of Children’s Hospice Week. The full message read as follows: “For any parent, coming to terms with the news your child has a life-threatening condition and may die young is heart-breaking and incredibly frightening. Families can often feel isolated, but having the support of a children’s hospice means they don’t have to face that future alone.
“Every day, the UK’s 54 children’s hospices are a vital lifeline for families caring for a seriously ill child, and over the last ten years I have been privileged to see first-hand the incredible work they do.
“This year, the theme for Children’s Hospice Week is ‘For the Children’, reminding us all that as well as providing expert care, children’s hospices bring joy, fun and play to brighten each day and help families make the most of their lives together, no matter how short.
“This Children’s Hospice Week, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the extraordinary work they do and thank them for the life-changing care and support they provide to children and families going through the toughest of times.”
The Duchess is celebrating her tenth anniversary supporting the charity, becoming Royal Patron in January 2012. EACH was one of Catherine’s first patronages announced after her marriage in 2011. In the last decade, she has seen first-hand the support children’s hospices provide to families caring for seriously ill children.
In 2021, Catherine released a message, where she noted how ‘children’s hospices are a lifeline’ and how the pandemic was ‘a difficult one for everyone, and especially tough and frightening for families with seriously ill children’.
In 2020, Kate visited East Anglia Children’s Hospices, where she spent time with volunteer gardeners, EACH staff and some families, to put sensory plants in the patio garden, including lavender, bay, and rosemary. Some of these plants were purchased by the Duchess on a trip to a garden centre.