The Duchess of Cambridge was greeted by gusts of wind as she arrived at Evelina Children’s Hospital in London today, but she didn’t let that dampen her spirits. Catherine laughed as she held her skirt down, avoiding any wardrobe malfunction and greeted a young patient with flowers, on her arrival.
The Duchess was visiting one of her patronages to join them at a workshop – run by another of her patronages, The National Portrait Gallery. The aim of the visit to learn how the creative arts can support children’s health, wellbeing and happiness, part of her research into early years. The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) works in collaboration with play specialists from Evelina London to take artists into the hospital, where they deliver workshops to children, their siblings and their parents. Activities can take place on the either on wards or in the special play rooms.
The NPG also gives each child a book – Playful Portraits – which encourages them to spend their time on the ward doing, and enjoying, creative activities. This programme, called The Hospital Programme, also runs in The Royal London Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Newham University Hospital.
Upon arrival, Catherine received a bouquet of white and pink flowers by Anna-Victoria, who was waiting outside to hand them to her. Staff were also on hand to greet their royal guest, before taking her inside. Once in out of the wind, Catherine met with staff, patients and family members in the reception area – which was not part of the schedule for the visit. She also posed for photos with some, a break from tradition which has been happening more and more lately.
Catherine then made her way upstairs to a play room where the workshop was thanking place. During the workshop, the Duchess helped the children to make tiny characters out of paper which would perform in a theatre company which came complete with a tiny stage for them.
While speaking with the children, the future Queen was presented with two wreaths, made from scrap material by 4-year-old Savannah Wheeler-Waddison. She thanked the girl, saying that she would put them up in Princess Charlotte’s bedroom once she got home. The wreathes took her and her brother between three and four hours to make.
Savannah’s older brother, 10-year-old heart patient Luke, took a photo of Catherine with his Polaroid camera – the Royal smiling brightly for the camera as she held the presents from Savannah.
Today’s visit wasn’t just all about the workshop and the benefits of it, it also allowed The Duchess of Cambridge to hear the stories of many of the hospitals patients and to hear from their families about the treatment they have received.
“This place saved my son’s life, it’s as simple as that,” Joanne Wheeler told Catherine as they spoke about her son and his congenital heart condition.
Kate answered questions from the children, telling 14-year-old Faith Morton that she does have normal days. “When we are in the countryside with the kids, yes we do.” she said, answering the young girl.
Many of the children spoke afterwards about how nice the royal visitor was, and also how tactile she was, placing a reassuring hand on their arm or back as they spoke – even tickling 13 month old Rose Parker. As the baby laughed, Catherine told her mother Emily that “my son Louis also has very tickly knees.”
Everyone seemed delighted to spend time with the Duchess, and Kate herself considered it a treat to meet everyone that she had. Speaking to some of the children, Catherine was heard telling them: “What a treat it is for me to meet you all today. What a treat! I am so pleased.” It would seem that everyone’s day had been made!