Excited 12-year-old Ollie to meet the Duchess of Cambridge, royal patron of the charity which he describes as ‘bliss’
- Credit: Duell family
A lucky schoolboy from East Anglia is looking forward to meeting royalty ahead of the opening night of a classic Broadway revival.
Twelve-year-old Ollie Duell will be shaking hands with the Duchess of Cambridge at the opening of 42nd Street in London in aid of East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH).
Kate Middleton, the charity's royal patron, is going to the show at the Theatre Royal, on Drury Lane, tomorrow (Tuesday) in support of the charity's nook appeal.
Upon arrival, she will be presented to Ollie, who lives with a complex medical condition that affects his bowel and stomach.
In October 2010 he underwent a transplant of those vital organs but by 2014 his body had rejected the new tissues.
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It means that Ollie needs to be attached to several tubes to help with breathing and feeding, and more. He is also attached to a pump for 22 hours a day and requires 36 medicines four times a day plus four lots of intravenous drugs.
He also has an underactive thyroid, juvenile arthritis, and sleep apnoea, and although he is able to walk short distances, he often needs an electric wheelchair.
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These impediments mean Ollie can only attend his North Cambridge Academy three times a week for three hours at a time. He also has two two-hour homeschool sessions a week.
But despite the ups and downs, a constant source of positivity and support has been EACH.
Ollie first visited the charity's Milton hospice aged three. He now benefits from two or three day-long care sessions each month and also enjoys hydrotherapy to alleviate pain in his joints.
Carer and sibling groups at the hospice mean Ollie's parents, Claire and Gavin, and his sister, Georgina, 18, are also supported.
Claire said: 'Knowing Ollie is being looked after by the amazing team at EACH means we can have some time off and not worry, which is the most brilliant feeling ever. We also really enjoy meeting other families and being able to talk through what life is like for us all.
'EACH enables us to be a family, providing care and support for us as a whole. Having a safe place for Ollie to be cared for is the most valuable gift we could ever have been given.
'Ollie loves spending time at the hospice and the minute he gets there he is kicking off his shoes, getting a duvet and snuggling down on the sofa, with everyone running around seeing to his every need. As he says - 'It's bliss'.
'Without EACH I really don't believe we would have made it this far together as a family. They make a really hard time just that little easier to deal with.'
Her Royal Highness helped to launch the nook appeal in 2014.
The charity has outgrown its current hospice in Quidenham, Norfolk, and aims to raise £10m to transform children's palliative care, including a new purpose-built hospice near to Norwich. The charity needs to secure a further £5m to make its vision a reality.
- Anyone who wishes to support the event can donate by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/42ndStreet or to support the nook appeal visit www.each.org.uk/the-nook.