A speech delivered by The Duke of Cambridge at the Child Bereavement UK 25th Birthday Gala Dinner

Published 10 June 2019

With great sympathy and sensitivity, you have spent the last 25 years working with children, young people and families to help them navigate the difficult path of grief.

The Duke of Cambridge

Thank you Ann, and good evening everyone.

On the eve of Child Bereavement UK’s creation in 1994, an unusually apprehensive and nervous Julia Samuel travelled here to Kensington Palace to go through her opening speech with my mother.

They both saw then the game changer this charity could be for those in the darkest depths of grief, struggling to find a route out.

25 years later, it is with great pride that I stand here as your patron to celebrate the successes you have had since that day.

Child Bereavement UK is a truly remarkable organisation.

With great sympathy and sensitivity, you have spent the last 25 years working with children, young people and families to help them navigate the difficult path of grief.

This is a path no-one chooses.

It has no map.

And no end.

But with careful support, it is a path that can become easier under foot.

The impact of this support is brought home to me every time I meet people who are helped by Child Bereavement UK.

Recently I met Eddie, Sefofo and Keli, and their mum Precious, who were supported after their baby brother and son, Raphael, died. Raphael’s death had a ripple effect on the whole family, and everyone was affected in a different way. 

It was touching to hear that - with the guidance of your wonderful staff - this family, like so many others, have been given the language and resilience to talk about their loss, and to find a way to live again.

For many, sharing their experiences and memories is a crucial part of the grieving process.

Grief that is most intense in the days and weeks that directly follow a loss. Like those affected by unimaginable heartache after the devastating mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

And grief that is carried with you for the rest of your life. I saw that in the eyes of D-Day veterans and families last week. Their sorrow for lost friends, sons and fathers 75 years on still moves them to tears.

It demonstrates exactly why Child Bereavement UK’s work is so important.

An ear to listen, and a shoulder to cry on, is sometimes all it takes to lighten the burden in the smallest of ways. And that is what you have provided.

You have also played a pivotal role in changing attitudes – and helping people to talk more freely about the way they are feeling and the daily challenges they face.

By providing professionals and people across the UK with the tools and guidance they need to support friends, family and colleagues who are bereaved, you are helping to create a support network aimed at providing comfort to those in the most painful situations.

And you shine a beacon of light in the darkness as families learn to live with their loss, and find hope - and laughter - again.

Child Bereavement UK’s transformational work simply wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of people like you here tonight.

So from the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for playing your part in the charity’s incredible success over the last quarter of a century.

And thank you in advance as you continue to support Child Bereavement UK’s vital work with bereaved families for many more years to come.

Thank you.