The Duchess of Cambridge dazzled in blue as she hosted a gala dinner tonight at Buckingham Palace. The gala dinner is in celebration of Place2Be’s 25th Anniversary and the Duchess was hosting it in her role as patron of the organisation.
Place2Be is a children’s mental health charity which works with pupils, families and staff in schools across the United Kingdom. They provide mental health support in schools through one-to-one and group counselling using methods backed by research. They also offer training and professional qualifications.
Rewearing a bespoke Jenny Packham gown that we last saw during her official tour of India and Bhutan in 2016, Catherine did not hold back from shaking hands as she arrived for the event. Earlier, under new rules put in place at the Abbey, she refrained from doing so.
The pupils from New North Academy and Salisbury School in London teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to write and compose a song about self-esteem, creativity and their wellbeing. They kicked off the event tonight with their performance.
Catherine has been patron of the charity since 2013. Her role is part of her commitment to improving the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people. For the past seven years, she has helped to shine a light on the vital work carried out by Place2Be across the United Kingdom.
Over the past seven years, The Duchess of Cambridge has paid numerous visits to Place2Be services and events, including their annual school leaders forum. In 2018, before the arrival of Prince Louis, Catherine officially opened the charity’s new London headquarters. She has met hundreds of staff, and pupils and families helped by the charity during visits to several Place2Be partner schools.
In 2015, the Duchess helped to launch Place2Be’s first ever Children’s Mental Health Week. Every year since then, she has released a video message or a letter during that week to highlight the importance of children’s mental health and encouraging more people to get involved and spread the word.
Place2Be was also one of the charity partners for the Heads Together Campaign, which was the brainchild of Kate and launched by herself, her husband and her brother-in-law. In 2018 Place2Be became a charity partner for Mentally Healthy Schools, which was launched by Catherine as a legacy of the Heads Together Campaign.
Place2Be also works in partnership with Shout, a free 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis. Shout was launched nationally by the Cambridge’s and Sussex’s last year.
This was the Duchess’ second engagement of the day, after joining her husband and other members of the Royal Family at Westminster Abbey this afternoon for the annual Commonwealth Service. The event was the last official engagement for her brother and sister-in-law as they step back from Royal life.
Guests at the reception included two school choirs, who posed for photos with The Duchess ahead of their performance at the event. Catherine looked animated as she spoke with the children, who looked delighted to be performing at Buckingham Palace of all places!
The Royal stood up and gave a speech during the event, where she spoke about the importance of Place2Be’s work: “You have taught me the importance of creating safe and nurturing environments within schools,” she told those gathered.
She also spoke about the importance of quality time spent with children, saying: “You also taught me that it’s the simplest things that make a difference to children. It’s the quality time that is spent with them. It’s the time you take to listen to them. It is trusting relationships that have the most profound impact on the emotional and mental wellbeing of a child.”
Catherine then took her seat in the audience once more and listened to other speeches, including one from Place2Be Founded and President Benny Refson. Benny explained in her speech why she started the charity, saying; “When I worked as a counsellor with young people it seemed that much of their unhappiness lay in their early childhood.”
That would resonate with the listening Duchess, who is focusing on her Early Years programme at the moment and trying to shine a light on how important early childhood is to everyone.
Over the past 25 years more than 250,000 children and their families have been directly supported by Place2Be. Here is to the next 25, happy birthday Place2Be!