The Countess of Wessex yesterday visited Shooting Star House, a children’s hospice in Hampton, London. The visit was carried out by her in her role as Patron of Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, a charity which cares for babies, children and young people who have life-limiting conditions and also for their families.
Caring Sophie, 55, was on hand to decorate Valentine’s Day biscuits and read to a group of youngsters at Shooting Star House.
The Countess has been making regular visits to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices’ many centres throughout the UK since 2002 – the year she officially opened Christopher’s, the organisation’s Guildford based hospice. She has also hosted fundraising events for the charity.
Looking casual, yet stylish, The Countess of Wessex was pictured greeting music royalty upon arrival – Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley, who is vice-president of the organisation.
At the beginning of her visit, Sophie was shown around the newly refurbished lounge and dining area, which was transformed in the spring of 2019 into a bright and sensory space for families supported by Shooting Star, to enjoy and feel at home.
It was then down to some fun, as Sophie got stuck in to the many activities that were on offer to the children and families yesterday. In one Valentine’s-themed activity, The Queen’s daughter-in-law showed off her artistic skills by icing a heart-shaped shortbread biscuit, before helping three-year-old Gwen, who has spina bifida, to decorate a cookie, alongside Gwen’s mother Jenny.
The Countess of Wessex spent the afternoon at @SSChospices today decorating Valentine’s biscuits. “I should have gone into baking” she said. More here https://t.co/TjDGL2K884 pic.twitter.com/c6VPb9ica3
— Victoria Murphy (@byQueenVic) February 12, 2020
The Countess admired her handiwork and joked: “I should have gone into baking!”
Following the cookie decorating, Jenny said: “It’s been a lovely afternoon – Gwen thoroughly enjoyed meeting a real life princess. Gwen decorated a biscuit with the Countess, which is a special memory that we as a family will be able to treasure.
“When you have a child with a life-limiting condition it’s lovely to be able to do things like this because life can be hard sometimes and these sorts of things make you realise that you’re not alone. The support that we get from the charity is just brilliant.”
‘That’s Not My Princess’ – no that isn’t a cry from one of the children who expected Anna or Elsa – was name of the book that the royal visitor read aloud to the delight of the gathered little ones. One special youngster even received a cuddle during the special story time.
But the day was not only about the children, the Countess also paid tribute to the wonderful staff at the hospice that do so much. Addressing the nurses and care staff, Sophie thanked them for what they do in “looking after these wonderful and beautiful children.”
She continued: “The care and love that you show to every single child who comes through the door is immeasurable. You are their family when they’re here. The parents trust you completely with their children and no price can be put on that.
“And to all of the people who are helping to fund this amazing organisation, thank you – it’s a very special place and I know that many families couldn’t survive without Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.”
As she prepared to leave, Sophie recurved a special canvas from nine-year-old Emma, who has a metabolic condition. The canvas had been created by children that use the hospice’s services. Six-year-old Brooke, a supported sibling of one of the patients, also presented the Royal with a bouquet of flowers.
In the evening, the Countess attended the 100 Women In Finance’s (100WIF) annual charity gala at Banqueting House. This year’s gala was in aid of Founders4Schools’ ‘Maths4Girls’ programme.
Sophie, who is patron of 100WIF, gave a speech during the gala in which she said that “if young people can see what is possible, it helps to improve their career aspirations.”
— Founders4Schools (@Founders4School) February 12, 2020