Supporting children's hospices
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.
Through her Royal engagements, charitable patronages and in speeches, she has worked to bring wider public attention to the hospice movement.
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 of Cambridge joins in a music class during her visit to the Treehouse, part of the East Anglia's Children's Hospices, in Ipswich, 29th March 2012
The Duchess of Cambridge meeting children and staff as she visits Naomi House Children's Hospice in Winchester, Hampshire, during Children's Hospice Week, 29th April 2013.
The Duchess of Cambridge speaks with Zakwan Anuar, 15, and his mother, during a visit to the Hospis Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, as part of a nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, 13th September 2012
The Duchess records a message for the Together for Short Lives' Children's Hospice Week campaign, 28th April 2013
The Duchess of Cambridge makes a speech during a visit to the Hospis Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, as part of a nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, 13th September 2012
The Duchess of Cambridge speaks with Tilly Jennings as she leaves after her visit to the Treehouse, part of the East Anglia's Children's Hospices, in Ipswich, 29th September 2012.
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."
A video made by East Anglia Children's Hospice (EACH)
The Duchess of Cambridge visits Naomi House Children’s Hospice
The Duchess of Cambridge's video message in support of Children's Hospice Week
The Duchess of Cambridge has spent part of her time on overseas tours focusing on issues that are of importance to her and where she feels she can make a real difference.
In September 2012, Her Royal Highness visited Malaysia with her husband on behalf of the British Government in celebration of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as part of a wider tour.
They spent an afternoon at Hospis Malaysia, which is a leading hospice located in central Kuala Lumpur, where the Duchess was keen to use her visit to learn more about how the hospice movement works in Malaysia.
Their Royal Highnesses toured the building meeting child and adult users of the hospice, as well as their families, before they were invited to unveil a plaque.
The Duchess of Cambridge then gave a short speech at the end of this visit to patients and staff, drawing on her own growing experience of the hospice movement in the United Kingdom.
“It is so exciting to learn about the Country's very first paediatric palliative care programme and to witness for myself something of the wonderful work of Hospis Malaysia's superb staff,” she said.
“Providing children and their families with a place of support, care and enhancement at a time of great need is simply life changing. With effective palliative care lives can be transformed. Treatment, support, care and advice can provide a lifeline to families at a time of great need.
“This is a very special place and so much is already being achieved. It has been wonderful meeting the patients, families and all the staff here - you have given us the most wonderful welcome.”
Institutions dedicated to providing palliative treatment for those with terminal illnesses are rare in Malaysia and across the region where families either care for dying loved ones themselves or pay for it, if funds are available.
Dr Ednin Hamzah, chief executive and medical director of the charity Hospis Malaysia, said the very presence of Their Royal Highnesses at the hospice would send a message out across the region.
He said: "The impact of this (will be felt) not just in Malaysia but other countries Thailand, Philippines."
Through this visit Hospis Malaysia and EACH made contact to share best practice and they continue to stay in touch.