Duchess hails 'dedicated and inspirational' teams at children's hospices
The Duchess of Cambridge has praised the extraordinary work of "dedicated and inspirational" staff and volunteers at children's hospices across the UK.
To mark the beginning of Children's Hospice Week, Kate has released a personal video message to show her support.
A patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH), in the clip the mother-of-two said she has seen the "incredible difference" children's hospice services make to families.
"They deliver first-class care in a safe environment that feels as close to home as possible, full of colour, warmth, love and support," she said.
"Today as we mark the beginning of Children's Hospice Week - I hope you will join me in shining a light on the dedicated and inspirational staff and volunteers, and the lifeline services they provide for children and their families.
"The work they do is extraordinary, and it really does make a world of difference."
Children's Hospice Week, which runs from May 22 to 28, is organised by the UK charity Together For Short Lives.
The week aims to raise awareness of the work of the UK's 54 children's hospices and the support offered by children's palliative care charities.
In her message Kate highlights that across the UK there are more than 49,000 children and young people who have life-limiting conditions, and how for the families of these youngsters having "expert care and support is vital".
She added: "For any parent, being told that your child may have a life-limiting condition, or may die young, will be one of the most difficult and isolating experiences you can face.
"Having someone to help you come to terms with this news, and the professional support and care that comes with this, can make an enormous difference.
"It can help families make the most of every precious moment they have together."
Her message was recorded on a visit to meet children and families at EACH in Quidenham in January this year.
It also features the track Lego House by Ed Sheeran, an EACH ambassador.
Barbara Gelb, chief executive of Together For Short Lives, said it is thrilled to have Kate's backing.
"The Duchess's words, and her amazing support for Children's Hospice Week since 2013, have been transformational, helping to raise awareness of the needs of seriously ill children and families and to show that help is at hand," she said.
"Families coming to terms with the heart-breaking news that their child will die young often say that it is the most isolating time and they simply don't know where to turn for help.
"That's why the Duchess's words are so poignant - it's a clear message that help is available from the remarkable children's hospice and palliative care services right across the UK.
"This support can make a world of difference for families."
:: The Duchess's video message can be viewed at www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk/royalfilm or www.each.org.uk/childrens-hospice-week