Members of the royal family have shared personal messages of support for children’s hospice charities to mark the start of Children’s Hospice Week this week (21-27 June).
Their Royal Highnesses, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall, have both acknowledged the vital work of children’s hospices, including Children’s Hospice South West’s Little Bridge House in North Devon, Charlton Farm in North Somerset and Little Harbour in Cornwall.
Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, who is the Royal Patrol of Children’s Hospice South West, said: “Once again it is Children’s Hospice Week, so I wanted to send a message to all the families across the country who are caring for terminally ill babies, children and young people.
You face enormous heart-breaking challenges and you are much in my thoughts and prayers.
“I also wanted to thank the brilliant staff and volunteers who work wonders to help short lives to be lived to the full, creating precious memories and providing comfort and support to all those who come through your doors.”
Kate Duchess of Cambridge, also thanked the UK’s 54 children’s hospices for the life-changing care they provide to seriously ill children and families.
She said: “The last year has been a difficult one for everyone, and especially tough and frightening for families with seriously ill children. Many started shielding long before others, worrying about the pandemic and what it might mean for their child.
"The theme for this year’s Children’s Hospice Week is ‘Pushed to the Limits’, recognising the tremendous strain these families face, and why the care and support of their local children’s hospices is needed now more than ever.
“Children’s hospices are a lifeline, and I have been privileged to see first-hand the remarkable work they do. They give families the care and time they need to make treasured lifelong memories – the chance to be parents, not carers. Vitally, they are also there when it is time to say goodbye, making sure a family has privacy and dignity so can grieve together, and are able to receive support for as long as they need it.
“I hope you will join me this Children’s Hospice Week in thanking the UK’s 54 children’s hospices and their incredible staff for the life-changing care they provide to children and families facing the unimaginable – helping them to make the most of every precious moment together,” added the duchess, who is Royal Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.
Children’s Hospice Week, which is organised by Together for Short Lives, is the only week in the year dedicated to raising awareness and funds for children’s hospice and palliative care services across the UK.
Andy Fletcher, CEO for Together for Short Lives, said: “We join the Duchesses in thanking children’s hospices for their much-needed lifeline support, especially throughout the pandemic, when families have felt exhausted and pushed to their limits.”
“More than ever, families need their children’s hospice to provide the care and time they need to make the most of every moment, whether that’s for years, months or only days. The Duchesses’ support for Children’s Hospice Week over many years has helped to raise awareness of the needs of seriously children and to show the life-changing care children’s hospice and palliative care services provide to families throughout their child’s life, and vitally at the end of their life, in bereavement and beyond.”
CHSW, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, was founded by Eddie Farwell and his late wife Jill after they experienced the urgent need for hospice care for local children. Their two eldest children, Katie and Tom, had life-limiting illnesses and the family had to travel more than four hours, from their home in North Devon to Helen House in Oxford, then the country’s only children’s hospice.
Mr Farwell, who is the charity’s chief executive, said:
We are extremely grateful to the Duchesses for their support of children’s hospices and the vital lifeline they provide families facing the unimaginable.
“The effects of this wretched pandemic have been far-reaching but as a charity, we have adapted our care model to ensure we can still be there for families, wherever and whenever they need us, whether that’s in our hospices or in their own homes.
“And we have only been able to do this thanks to our magnificent supporters, so this Children’s Hospice Week is also a chance to celebrate their continued faithfulness and generosity.”