While Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge has been focused on helping vulnerable communities during the Covid pandemic she hasn’t forgotten about the other issues close to her heart.
Last week the Duchess made a private visit to The Nook, a children’s hospice in East Anglia which is run by one of her oldest charities EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices). She received a warm welcome there and spent the afternoon helping children and their families plant a garden. Kate suggested the visit, which involved planting a new patio garden at the centre, so that the plight of hospices such as The Nook can be publicized during the lockdown.
Even before she married into the royal family Kate has been involved with palliative care. EACH was one of the first charities she took on as a royal in 2012, and while she has shifted her focus to her new Early Years initiative, helping terminally ill children remains high on her agenda.
Dressed in a pretty floral frock Kate, an avid gardener, wasn’t worried about getting her hands—or her dres—dirty. She got to work potting plants with six-year-old Sonny Pope-Saunders, who has a rare type of brain tumour and is being cared for at the center.
Sources close to the Duchess say she was delighted to return to The Nook which she officially opened last November. Not only was it a chance for her to revisit the center but Kate was keen to do something practical while offering support to families with terminally ill children who have faced great challenges during the Covid pandemic.
The visit marked the end of Children’s Hospice Week, which saw Kate join forces with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall for the first time. The two royals recorded a video message of support in which Kate thanked hospice staff for their tireless work and support.
According to aides Kate jumped at the chance to revisit The Nook, which is not far from Anmer Hall in Norfolk, where the Cambridges will be spending the summer. Kate was keen to learn about how the charity has continued to deliver end of life and emergency crisis care as well as bereavement support during the pandemic.
“She has always been a natural,” Tracy Rennie, acting CEO of EACH, told Vanity Fair. “From an early stage she wanted to learn more about palliative care for children. I remember when she first came to visit us at the Treehouse in Ipswich before her wedding. There was this girl who must have been 10 or 11, who had no idea who she was and pulled her by the hand into the sensory room. Kate kicked off her heels and went to play with her and I just thought ‘wow, that’s impressive.’ Not everyone feels that comfortable but Kate just took it in her stride. She was the same then as she is now. The Duchess always knows exactly what to say. She’s very naturally personable. She gives off an aura of friendship she’s not at all standoffish and she’s very confident and calm.”
Those qualities were clear to see on Thursday when Kate chatted with sick children and their families and re-potted a sunflower she had brought in memory of Fraser Delf, nine, who died at EACH’s Milton hospice in January. Because she was outside she was not required to wear a mask for the visit.
“The Duchess’s support was really timely,” Rennie said. “We have families that have been in lockdown for three months fiercely shielding their families for all of that time. They are exhausted and they need support.”
While the Cambridges plan to stay at Anmer for the summer aides say they will be carrying out more engagements over the coming weeks and monitoring the Covid pandemic and how they can continue to help.
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