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Duchess of Cambridge visits Emma Bridgewater factory to launch mugs in aid of EACH’s Nook Appeal

PUBLISHED: 14:46 18 February 2015 | UPDATED: 23:10 18 February 2015

The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to Emma Bridgewater earthenware in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to Emma Bridgewater earthenware in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge has paid a visit to the Emma Bridgewater ceramics factory to witness production of a new line of mugs launched in support of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), of which the Duchess is patron.

Kate was visiting the factory in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, touring the shopfloor and watching youngsters getting creative with paint - to the delight of their royal visitor.

Wearing a patterned Seraphine dress, blue coat and matching heels, the Duchess was all smiles as she chatted with production staff before meeting families from Stoke-based Donna Louise Children’s Hospice for a painting session.

She earned plenty of fans among workers, as she tried her hand at making flatware - which involved the precision throwing of a piece of clay onto a machine.

Warning on-lookers to “watch out”, Kate managed to hit the mark first time although she remarked “it’s a little lop-sided”.

However, 53-year-old Andy Davies - a jigger-jollier - who was supervising, said her technique had been near-perfect.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “She’s a natural Stokie.”

She met a good portion of the 180 site staff, who have been busy with an order to create mugs to raise money for EACH’s Nook Appeal aimed at building a new hospice in Norfolk.

Emma Bridgewater - who called the royal visit “a golden day” for her and the staff - said the Duchess had a big hand in the eventual design of one of the mugs in particular, featuring a ladybird motif.

“She’s delightful, and has a very good unhurried feeling,” she said. “She’s very friendly, easy-going, jolly, and very practical. She gives so much time to people, and makes each person she talks with feel they are the sole focus.”

Mrs Bridgewater, whose husband Matthew Rice is the company’s chief executive, added the Duchess’ visits “to every corner of the country” meant she had “a very valuable insight into people’s real lives, that perhaps politicians don’t get”.

Kate later saw the mugs being decorated, describing the work as “amazingly intricate”. She even had a go herself, but branded her efforts as “massive blobs”.

However, sponge decorator Lynsey Gidman said the Duchess had hit the mark.

“It’s good, and she did really well - it’s not easy to get the right pressure on the sponge, but she managed it,” said the 37-year-old.

She then met a handful of families who use a local hospice, known as Treetops, and meeting four-year-old Daniel O’Sullivan who delighted the Duchess with his painting.

Warned by his watchful mother, Sarah O’Sullivan that her son might make a mess, Kate replied: “Oh, it’s fine, I’m used to it with George as well.”

Mrs O’Sullivan, of Loggerheads, in Staffordshire, told the Duchess how two nights a week of respite care for her son had proven “a lifeline” to the single mother.

Afterwards, the 37-year-old said Kate had been completely unhurried and “down to earth”.

Her son has autism and a rare infant form of Marfan Syndrome, which affects the connective tissues in his body, meaning he needs a ventilator at night.

“Doctors gave him a life-expectancy of two years old, but he’s well and truly kicked that prediction out,” she said, proudly.

Kate concluded the visit unveiling a plaque in front of staff, to cheers from the gathered crowd.

• The mugs will be available to pre-order at www.emmabridgewater.co.uk from February 18, and to buy at Emma Bridgewater shops from March 2.

• Prices are: ladybirds half pint mug £19.95; ladybirds and insects and flowers boxed pair £39.95; and ladybirds baby mug £15.95. For more on the nook appeal and how you can help, visit www.each.org.uk/the-nook

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