It was a gardening day for the Duchess of Cambridge to get her hands dirty with bags full of compost. To mark the Children’s Hospice Week, the Duchess of Cambridge visited the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH)’s The Nook, one of EACH’s purpose-built hospices, in Norfolk. The Duchess joined families to plant a garden for The Nook. During the visit, The Duchess of Cambridge met with staff from EACH care and facilities teams to thank them for the incredible work that they do.
The Duchess of Cambridge joined the Duchess of Cambridge to host a joint video call with three of their respective children’s hospice Patronages – East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, Children’s Hospice South West and Helen and Douglas House, to mark the Children’s Hospice Week 2020 on last Wednesday.
During the call, Both Duchesses talked to The Delf Family, a recently bereaved family whose son received end-of-life care at East Anglia Children’s Hospices (EACH). The Duchess promised their elder son, Stuie, who has raised a staggering £18,500 by running five kilometres every day in May for the EACH site in Milton, Cambridgeshire that cared for his brother shortly before he died that she is going to plant a sunflower in memory of Fraser at one of the EACH centres. The sunflower has been adopted as the emblem of hospice care, a symbol of joy with the seeds representing patients and the surrounding petals love, care, and compassion.
Today, The Duchess fulfilled her promise. Using plants bought during her visit to Fakenham Garden Centre last week, The Duchess of Cambridge worked alongside EACH volunteer gardener to plant a patio garden that will provide enjoyment for children and families Children’s Hospice Week.
The patio garden features plants such as lavender that is reportedly her favourite, strawberries, geraniums, sunflowers and herbs for a sensory experience. The Duchess loves getting her hand into the soil. She was enjoying her time with children and families planting and getting messy. From Hello!
Kate, who is patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices wanted to create a space outside the hospice’s dining room that would provide enjoyment for children and families and picked up some of the plants on her visit to Fakenham Garden Centre a week earlier.
Star, 11, Hudson, eight and six-year-old Sonny Pope-Saunders helped her transform the shady spot with terracotta containers full of strawberries, geraniums, hydrangeas and rock hyssop and herbs including sage, chives and tarragon.
Tracy Rennie, acting chief executive of EACH, told her: “Sonny’s got you a present!” as he held out a white wristband inscribed with his fundraising slogan “Sonny Smiles” for her to take. Crouching down to chat to him, Kate said: “Hi Sonny, Wow, is that for me? Thank you very much Sonny, am I allowed to take it? Are you going to give it to me later?” After handing it to her with a smile, she popped it straight onto her right wrist.
“Is this your first time here? What do you think, have you had a look around?” she asked the family. “It’s lovely,” said mum Kelly, 31. She told Kate how she had taken her son to see the GP in February because he wasn’t himself. Within days he had been diagnosed with the difficult-to-treat brain tumour. “It all happened quite quickly,” said the Duchess, who looked visibly moved and shook her head as Kelly added: “And then lockdown hit.”
She told the family: “I’m always so blown away by families like yours, particularly having to go through all of this in lockdown. You show such resilience and bravery. You’re such an inspiration to us all. More people in the country should meet families like you, there’s a huge amount of change for you all to take on and you have coped fantastically.”
Afterwards Kelly said: “It was so nice to see her – and in such a lovely dress too – getting stuck in. She’s so down to earth, the kids really loved doing the gardening and planting with her.”
The garden is designed by the Duchess herself. Catherine has been championing the mental health and important role nature and outdoor play in the children mental health for a long time. You must remember the beautiful ‘Back to Nature Garden’ that Duchess designed in 2019 for the Chelsea Flower Show. From Mirror’s report,
Kate, 38, was so moved by the tragic life of nine-year-old Fraser Delf that she gave a sunflower in his memory.
The blooms are the symbol of hospice care and was the favourite of Fraser, who suffered a rare genetic condition and died in January.
His mum Carla, 37, said: “I’m speechless. We are very touched as a family that she has done this and will be going to see Fraser’s sunflower when we can. “Fraser was always quite girly, and he would have loved to have known a princess was planting a flower for him. He would be very honoured.”
Each acting chief executive Tracy Rennie suggested scented and bright plants for the patio garden and the duchess delivered “brilliantly”.
“Those that met her here today will remember it for the rest of their lives.” Like the UK’s 220 hospices serving 225,000 people, Each in Milton saw a dramatic drop in fundraising due to Covid-19.
Tracy said it had taken a “considerable hit” since lockdown. She said: “It’s always particularly poignant when members of a bereaved family do something for us and what Stuie’s achieved has been nothing short of incredible.”
Duchess re-potted the sunflower, she had brought in memory of Fraser Delf, at the Nook.
The Duchess of Cambridge is the patron of EACH since 2012 and she recently opened its care centre ‘The Nook’ in 2019. Speaking at its opening, The Duchess said, “EACH was one of the very first charities that I decided to become patron after my marriage. Whilst a lot has changed since then, my commitment and support for this wonderful organization and the work that you do has not”.
From Daily Mail,
‘What a big mess!’ said the Duchess, smiling as her new tan £135 Russell and Bromley wedges took a thorough dusting. As they planted the seeds, Kate revealed that her children, George, six, Charlotte, five, and Louis, two, are having a sunflower-growing competition. ‘Louis is winning so George is a little grumpy about that,’ she said.
Tracy Rennie of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices recalls her first meeting with Kate a decade ago. ‘It was a private visit and she was a little shy,’ she said, ‘but I remember a little girl running up to give her a hug and she immediately kicked off her high heels to play. Since then she has really blossomed and grown, finding her confidence in a very understated way.
‘Many people are put off coming to hospices as they worry it’s a place to die but actually it’s a place for support, fun and laughter.’
Just like many other organizations out there, EACH is also going through the financial impact caused by the COVID19. If you would like to donate, you can do that here.
Video of the day.
Now to What Duchess wore – Catherine was looking absolutely lovely in summer lilac dress.
The Duchess of Cambridge wore a beautiful Lilac Faithfull Marie-Louise floral-print crepe midi dress. Thanks to @regalreplikate on Twitter for the id.
The $189 ‘Marie-Louise’ crepe style is decorated with colourful hand-painted blooms against a lilac backdrop and shirred at the sleeves and bust to create an empire shape. White barely-there sandals are the perfect accessory.