During a conversation with other bloggers who cover a myriad of various topics some months ago, we briefly discussed the moment we knew exactly what direction our blogs would take and inspiration behind continuing to work on them. I've often spoken here about my love of royal watching, which stems back generations in my own family, and following Kate's journey from my early teens. Nonetheless, I still lacked a great deal of knowledge when I began 'Duchess Kate' in 2011 about many elements of the monarchy and the boundless potential of a royal role. Fast forward a year and I felt I had the understanding I needed. The answer to the question for me was simple: East Anglia's Children's Hospices.
EACH was one of Kate's first patronages, and properly taking the time to understand their incredible work coupled with the uphill challenges they were facing in terms of funding and resources completely opened my eyes. At the time, they needed £6 million in donations annually to deliver essential services. I was struck by the dedication and devotion from their Chief Executive to volunteers who aim to devote even a couple of hours around their schedules. This was a charity supporting families and children through times so painful most of us cannot even contemplate. When Kate was expecting George, myself and several other Kate bloggers started the Baby Cambridge fundraiser. We were all set on EACH receiving the proceeds. I was privileged to have the opportunity to speak to a family supported by them and volunteers since, and my admiration and respect continues to grow for all involved.
When EACH announced ambitious plans to raise £10 million pounds for a purpose-built hospice in the heart of Norfolk, named the Nook. It was clear this would be an enormous undertaking, but a necessary one, in order to care for the needs of families in the area. They had outgrown their hospice in Quidenham, a very old two-storey building with accessibility issues. Below, Kate launched the appeal five years ago.
The appeal showcased community spirit and the power of people coming together. Raising £10 million is no mean feat. On social media over the past five years, I would regularly see updates on fundraising events.
Supporters like Kelly, who raised £700 completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
£600 raised by the Attenborough Cadets.
Local companies and businesses got in on the action too.
Even ambassador Ed Sheeran collaborated with Heinz to benefit EACH.
As indefatigable fundraising efforts continued, the Nook took shape.
Until finally last month EACH opened its doors.
The Duchess was warmly welcomed by local schoolchildren. The Nook is located just an hour from the Cambridges' country home, Anmer Hall.
'Even before entering the new center, Kate was in full mom mode — asking student Poppy Parslow-Williams, “Are you cold?” and rubbing his arm after seeing him shiver. “It was amazing. I shook her hand!” he told reporters.
Niamh Bell, 11, added, “She was very kind. Even though she didn’t have a lot of time she still came to talk to us.”
The Nook will offer an array of services including specialist nursing care, symptom management nursing, short breaks, wellbeing activities, therapies, counselling and volunteer services in the family home; all meeting the individual needs of the child, young person and whole family.
Kate joined a reception where she met families supported by EACH.
And participated in activities with the children.
The Telegraph reports:
'The Duchess was reunited with Leigh Smith, 38, who moved her to tears when they met in 2014, just months after Ms Smith had lost her three-month-old daughter Beatrice to a rare heart condition.
Ms Smith said after their private meeting: “She told me, ‘I don’t know how you did that, how you got through it. “It was really lovely to see her again and she gave me a big hug.
“She asked me if I felt that what we had gone through was still a difficult subject to discuss, in the wider community and I told her that yes, death is still a big taboo, especially children’s death.
“But I told her how important her role has been in breaking down that taboo, and mental health generally, normalising it and making it easier to talk about such things. “She batted it off of course. She’s very down to earth and lovely."
Kate was impressed by the new sensory room.
Victoria Murphy spoke to outgoing Chief Executive Graham Butland:
“She was very keen to have regular updates as to how the building was going,” he said. Graham also noted how Kate has visited some of the families that the charity helps in their own homes as she continues her support behind the scenes. “She’s also made private visits to the hospice. She’s visited at least a couple of families in their own homes, all without publicity, not known etcetera,” he said.
He also spoke about Kate’s manner with the families. “She likes to get her hands messy, she likes to join in and do things. And it’s not put on, it’s just natural,” he said. “These parents, they can spot a dud at 100 miles. They know people who are just patronizing…To have someone like that who actually really is interested and empathizes with them is tremendous.”
During a speech the Duchess said: "You have created here at The Nook a nurturing, caring environment that allows families who are going through the unimaginable the ability to spend precious quality time with each other, comforted in the knowledge that their children are being looked after in the best possible way. EACH was one of the very first charities that I decided to become Patron of after my marriage. Whilst a lot has changed since then, my commitment and support for this wonderful organisation and the work that you do has not."
Kate also shared a lighthearted moment as she recalled her first speech. It's included in the video below.
Kate's full speech:
'It is wonderful to be here today to open the Nook Hospice. And a huge congratulations to everyone here involved.
The Nook is a realisation of a vision that began five years ago. Thanks to immense generosity and support from all those who contributed to the Appeal, this state-of-the-art facility is fully operational and already making such a difference.
At the opening of the Treehouse Hospice many years ago (which I think I will remember for some years to come as it was my first ever speech!), I referred to your hospices as being homes. This visit today has only reinforced for me just what is at the heart of what you do here, throughout your work, and that is family.
You have created here at the Nook a nurturing, caring environment that allows families who are going through the unimaginable the ability to spend precious quality time with each other, comforted in the knowledge that their children are being looked after in the best possible way.
EACH was one of the very first charities that I decided to become Patron of after my marriage. Whilst a lot has changed since then, my commitment and support for this wonderful organisation and the work that you do has not.
Over the years, I have seen first-hand the depth of EACH’s reputation as a standard-bearer in children’s hospice care, both here in the U.K. and internationally too, during my visits to Malaysia and Australia.
Your hugely dedicated and talented team are at the core of this success and I wanted especially today to thank you, Graham, for everything you have done over the past sixteen years and to wish you a very happy retirement.
The Nook Hospice is a fitting tribute to all your staff, its generous supporters and its awe-inspiring children and families who I have been so lucky to meet here today. I therefore could not be more delighted to invite my army of little helpers to join me in officially opening this new hospice.'
The Duchess departing.
EACH are still fundraising for £700,000 to ensure they have enough to properly fit out the Nook. To meet the need, they've reopened their Pave the Path campaign, which aims to find sponsors for the red clay bricks that line the garden path at the Nook. Alternatively, one can buy items for the hospice such as tea towels and bedding. Click here if interested in finding out more. To view their range of Christmas cards and calendars please click here.
Jade was incredibly excited to spot Kate at Norwich railway station.
She’s here argh ❤️ My heart. So exciting! #DuchessofCambridge #TheNook @EACH_hospices #daymade pic.twitter.com/QXxtkr0ZIz— Jade 🐥 (@dolly_birds85) November 15, 2019
Kate gave her ultraviolet Oscar de la Renta suit a third public outing. Readers may recall she first wore it in February 2017 for the Guild of Health Writers conference and again earlier this year for an engagement at the Royal Opera House. The ensemble comes from Peter Copping's (Oscar de la Renta's handpicked successor) first collection in 2015.
The Three Quarter Sleeve Tailored Jacket is rendered in a wool blend and features a pointed collar, dual breast pockets, and a pleated, flared hem.
The matching Full Pleated Skirt is rendered in a wool blend and features a full shape with box pleating and a back zip.
Kate carried her limited edition ‘Blue Heart’ clutch in black croc. It is described as "a beautiful collaboration between Aspinal of London and Beulah using Beulah’s iconic blue heart print on the interior lining. The Blue Heart clutch is a grown up classic with a timelessly elegant silhouette that works effortlessly and includes Aspinal of London’s distinctive signature shield lock clasp. The intricate metal chain is in a gold finish and adds to the functionality allowing the clutch to be held in the hand or elegantly draped over the shoulder".
Gianvito Rossi Piper shoes.
And accessorised with her Catherine Zoraida Fern Hoop earrings.
We'll see William and Kate on Monday night for the Royal Variety Performance!