A speech by The Duke of Sussex at the 2018 WellChild Awards

Published 04 September 2018

Every one of you is truly amazing. You have shown all of us what it means to be a champion – whether for yourself, your family, your community, or someone in need.

Good evening everyone again.

Once again this year, it is an absolute privilege to be in the company of such inspiring families and nurses – especially the children and young people that we’re all here to honour.

First, let me congratulate all of those nominated tonight. Every one of you is truly amazing. You have shown all of us what it means to be a champion – whether for yourself, your family, your community, or someone in need.

The stories that we’ve all just heard – of resilience, strength of spirit, and the power of working together – were without doubt, incredibly moving and motivating. They really sum up what WellChild is all about – giving families the best chance to care for their children at home, and supporting them through the reality of all that that entails.

I would like to thank all the families here this evening. The mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, and many other family members who are devoted to their children and are giving them the best care possible.  You are such fierce advocates for your children and in doing everything in your power to give your family the best chance at a happy life. It is quite simply amazing.

I would also like to pay tribute to the devoted nurses and volunteers across the UK who help give children and young people living with serious illness or exceptional health needs – a chance to be cared for at home instead of hospital.

And I want to acknowledge the young people who have been dealt the toughest cards imaginable – but who persevere, rise above, and set the example of living life to the fullest.  In fact you are often the ones who lift us up – your 'can-do' attitude and unwavering spirit serves as a constant reminder that we must always look to the positive and never give up.

For the past 40 years, WellChild has been identifying issues and finding long-lasting solutions so that families can care for and support their children at home in the very best possible way. I have been a patron of the organization for 11 years now, and this year I am especially grateful to be able to share the scope and magnitude of this work with my wife, who joins me here this evening.

The tremendous work of WellChild is ever evolving, and earlier this year WellChild published their new strategy to address priorities to keep up with the needs of young patients and their families.  From developing new national standards, and establishing new training centres, to developing new digital tools – WellChild is paving the way for the best in care for children and their families.

Scarlett, who has been sitting next to me while we have been watching these remarkably inspirational stories this evening, is an absolutely perfect example of exactly that why training for families is so incredibly important.

At 10 years old, she plays a key role in caring for her sister Freya – and I know that there have been occasions when she has taken the lead in managing Freya’s feeding and oxygen when helping her Grandmother on the very rare occasions when her parents have taken a few much-needed hours for themselves.

Caring for children with serious health needs is demanding, I don't need to tell the people in this room that. It's exhausting and difficult.
 Lack of training is a huge barrier to leaving hospital for many families who spend months and months wanting to go home. In most areas of the UK, only very brief training is available and doesn’t always include potentially life-saving crisis interventions. That means that a large group of isolated, partially or un-trained parents and families are having to provide 24-hour, often invasive, care to their children – they deserve our support. And that’s where WellChild comes in.

We are about to transform training for these parents, and have already started creating new training centres designed to make parents more confident and competent in the critical care of their children. We are exploring the development of new digital tools to better empower families in the care of their children at home and we are developing new national standards for the training of parents, carers and families.

Not only will this work help solve the practical concerns, it will also address many of the emotionally challenging issues that come with a life spent fighting for your child without the opportunities for respite and relaxation that most of us take for granted.

We have seen for ourselves tonight how strong and resilient these young people and families are. Your stories are nothing but inspirational and every year at the WellChild Awards I am astonished by the people I meet.

But the determination and incredible spirit of young people like Scarlett and the others here with us tonight shouldn’t distract us from the fact that we have a growing population of families across the UK who need our help more than ever.

I urge you to please continue to support the work of WellChild in whatever way you can.

And finally, congratulations to all of our winners and nominees – I can’t think of a group of people who deserve our recognition more.

You are true inspirations. Thank you!

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