The Duchess of Cambridge is a committed supporter of children’s hospices and wider palliative care, which provides a vital lifeline to children and families affected by life-limiting conditions.
The Duchess of Cambridge has worked to bring wider public attention to the hospice movement through her Royal engagements, charitable patronages and in speeches.
The Duchess of Cambridge has been publicly involved in this area since she became Royal Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) in January 2012. The hospice was one of the first four Royal patronages The Duchess took on following her marriage in 2011.
This support reflected her personal response to this very moving issue, where she hopes her continued support will make a difference.
In March 2012, The Duchess of Cambridge carried out her first public engagement with EACH as its Royal Patron when she opened the hospice’s new ‘Treehouse’ centre. Her Royal Highness chose this engagement to give her first official public speech.
She told the audience that her first visit to EACH had challenged her pre-conceptions about what to expect at a children’s hospice.
“Far from being a clinical, depressing place for sick children, it was a home. Most importantly, it was a family home, a happy place of stability, support and care. It was a place of fun,” she said.
"For many, this is a home from home - a lifeline, enabling families to live as normally as possible during a very precious period of time. What you do is inspirational; it is a shining example of the support and the care that is delivered, not just here, but in the children's hospice movement at large, up and down the country.”
After the visit, EACH chief executive Graham Butland said The Duchess of Cambridge in her role as Royal Patron has already brought great benefits to the hospice.
“Her Royal Highness’s involvement helps us to celebrate and raise awareness of the care and support we provide to life-threatened children and their families across East Anglia. To have our work recognised in this way has also given a great boost to the families we support, as well as our staff, supporters and volunteers.”
The Duchess has worked in support of EACH in a number of ways, including supporting their campaign to build a new children's hospice in Norfolk - The Nook. In 2015, Her Royal Highness attended the launch and also gave practical support by introducing the hospice to pottery company Emma Bridgewater, to design a range of mugs in support of the appeal.
Children’s Hospice Week
The Duchess of Cambridge has been keen to build on her patronage with EACH, to ensure that the extended network of hospices and those delivering palliative care in the UK also benefit from her involvement.
In April 2013, she supported Children’s Hospice Week by recording her first ever video message for Together For Short Lives, in which she delivered a moving plea to support the 49 hospice services across the UK.
She said: “Children’s hospices provide lifelines to families at a time of unimaginable pain. The support they give is vital. In order to carry out this wonderful work, our help is needed. With our support, those providing children’s palliative care can continue to offer these extraordinary services. It does not bear thinking about what these families would do without this.”
Her Royal Highness provided further support to Children’s Hospice Week by visiting Naomi House in Hampshire, which she had previously visited privately in 2008.
The Duchess of Cambridge was keen to draw attention to the range of services that hospices typically provide for families, including short break care and parent and sibling groups, specialist play activities and therapies, as well as care at the end of life and bereavement support.
She met the staff and volunteers, spoke to a young family enjoying the hydrotherapy pool and joined in a tea party for siblings of children with life-limiting conditions.
Professor Khalid Aziz, chairman of Naomi House, said of the visit: "Her presence has provided a real boost for our families, our volunteers and all our dedicated staff who were thrilled to meet her."
To mark Children's Hospice Week 2014, some photographs of The Duchess during a visit to The Treehouse - one of EACH's hospices - have been released. Her Royal Highness visited The Treehouse to learn more about the services that are required for families with seriously ill children, and especially the role that volunteers can play for Children's Hospices, which is an issue she is exploring further with her Foundation.
The Duchess of Cambridge has also provided the following supportive statement for Children's Hospice Week:
Around the clock support is crucial for children receiving palliative care. They and their families often need help every hour of every day, both in hospices and at home. As Patron of EACH, I have seen first-hand this remarkable and varied work and just how vital the support of staff and volunteers can be to the families of children with life limiting conditions. It has been wonderful to see the fantastic public support for Children's Hospice Week over the last few days. Please continue supporting your local children's hospice in whatever way you can
The Duchess of Cambridge
Children's Hospice Week is the UK's only awareness raising and fundraising week for children with life-limiting conditions and the services, like children's hospices, that support them. Children’s Hospice Week has promoted the #WeCare247 campaign to focus on the complex round-the-clock care that seriously ill children require, and the roles that children's hospices and palliative care services are there to provide, from nurses and carers to counsellors and volunteers.