The Duchess of Cambridge has called children’s hospices a “heart-warming example to us all” in a letter marking the start of Children’s Hospice Week.
Kate is the royal patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), a charity caring for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.
The mother-of-three said organisations like EACH create “life long memories that are poignant, happy and often filled with laughter”.
This year’s theme for the national awareness week – organised by palliative care charity Together for Short Lives – is Moments that Matter, which hopes to challenge the preconception that children’s hospices are frightening places.
In the letter, Kate wrote: “Children’s hospices provide vital sanctuaries for those experiencing the very toughest of times.
“They help families and carers build lifelong memories that are poignant, happy and often filled with laughter.
“Whether through specialist play aimed at deepening relationships between children and their families, or through art and music therapy that helps young people express themselves and release their thoughts and feelings – the work of organisations like East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices can set a truly heart-warming example to us all.
“They provide a lifeline to children and families for however long support is needed and I hope that others join me in thanking them as we shine a light on their work during Children’s Hospice Week.”
Referring to the awareness week, which starts on Monday, the duchess said: “The theme this year is ‘Moments that Matter’. It aims to make the most of the very precious time that those using hospice services have.
“Throughout the week we will hear amazing stories from families facing the toughest of futures.
“I hope that they will inspire each and every one of us to similarly make the most of the time we have with our own families, by ensuring every moment matters and that we create memories that last forever.”
The charity is sharing the stories of five families at a photography exhibition called the H-Word, where the photos on display – taken by parents – explore what the word hospice means to them.
One of the parents included in the Ipswich exhibition is Charlotte Markham, from Kesgrave, whose son Elliot died after just a few hours in 2012.
“When we went to look around The Treehouse (EACH’s hospice in Ipswich) it was a totally different experience to what we expected,” she said.
“We were made to feel that our son Elliot mattered, his life mattered, he was important, they would care for us and him.
“Our initial perception of what EACH was from the outside was so wrong.”
Graham Butland, EACH chief executive, said: “Children’s Hospice Week is always a really important time of year for us and all children’s hospices across the UK, and I hope people will once again join the duchess in championing the role they have to play.
“We’re very excited to be hosting the H-Word and hope it’ll go some way to addressing misconceptions in our region.”