The Duchess of Cornwall has unveiled a “brilliant” set of stained glass windows at a children’s hospital featuring children’s author Roald Dahl’s famous characters.
Camilla was visiting Birmingham Children’s Hospital, which has teamed up with Felicity Dahl – the late writer’s widow – and illustrator Sir Quentin Blake to create the permanent and unique art installation.
Made up of 10 stained glass windows, they feature much-loved characters from books including The BFG, Matilda, The Enormous Crocodile, The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me, and The Witches.
It is hoped the familiar characters will help put sick children more at ease as they come for treatments and check-ups.
The duchess met some of the patients, as well as parents and staff, including four nurses specialising in rare diseases who are funded by the Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.
Camilla, a patron of the children’s charity, unveiled a plaque and presented a set of story books for patients during her visit.
Looking at one of the windows, showing Matilda sat studiously atop a pile of books, she said: “Aren’t these brilliant?”
The windows, crafted by glass art specialist Andrew Moor, adorn the hospital’s Children’s Cancer Centre and Centre for Rare Diseases at Waterfall House in the city centre.
The project was a collaboration between Mrs Dahl and Sir Quentin, who came up with the idea over a restaurant lunch.
Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The idea came from Felicity Dahl.
“She was sitting having a meal in a restaurant with Quentin Blake, looked at a stained glass window and said, ‘Do you think we could make some of these’.
“She then contacted me and said, ‘I’ve got this idea, could we make it happen at Birmingham Children’s Hospital?’
“I said yes – I didn’t think of any of the details at the time.
“I just thought whatever the practicalities, we can work it out.
“Because to have beautiful windows designed by Quentin Blake, based on Roald Dahl characters, it’s a dream come true for anybody.”
Mrs Dahl said: “I really wanted the magic of Roald’s much-loved characters to comfort the brave young patients and their families arriving at the hospital and provide some distraction to why they are visiting, putting their minds at ease.
“I am so thrilled with the magnificent windows, they are absolutely stunning.”
Mrs Dahl has a strong family link to the hospital.
Her father, Professor Alphonsus d’Abreu, a pioneering thoracic and cardiac surgeon, worked at the site and would take his daughter, then a child, on patient visits each Sunday.
Outpatient Callum Read, 17, from Kings Heath, Birmingham, has been a regular visitor to the centre since it opened.
The media student is living with the condition kyphoscoliosis, which affects his spine, and has undergone 30 operations in his life.
He welcomed the “brilliant” windows and the effect they would have on new patients.
Callum said: “It’s going to really help new patients coming in get over that initial fear as they enter the hospital, not being scared about what’s going to happen, what lies ahead.
“They’re just going to have something to distract them and put them at ease and let them know they’re in a caring and safe environment.”
Describing the duchess as “lovely”, he added: “She was talking about how lovely the stained glass windows are, what my experiences of the stained glass windows are, and how they’ll improve the experiences of future patients.”
Concluding her visit, Camilla was presented with a posy by 11-year-old Matilda Hatton, a pupil at St Thomas More Catholic School, from Great Wyrley, Staffordshire.
The youngster, who has the rare Sensenbrenner syndrome, beamed with delight as the duchess had photographs taken with her.
Camilla said: “Can I just say before I leave that I feel really privileged to be one of the first people to see these lovely windows and officially unveil them.”
Praising the work of doctors and nurses, she also said: “You do such a wonderful job.”
The duchess added: “It’s lovely to come to a hospital which has got such an uplifting atmosphere.
“Now you’ve got a little magic sprinkled on it by these windows.”
Earlier, she toured the city’s Elmhurst Ballet School and its new health and wellbeing centre.
Camilla was due to meet toddlers and mothers at a Gruffalo-themed tiny tots session at the Lichfield Street Hub in Walsall, West Midlands.
She was also set to tour the town’s Launer handbag and leatherworks factory, meeting workers and owners.