OPINION: Incredible impact Duchess has had on The Nook's success

The Duchess of Cambridge at The Nook in 2019

The Duchess of Cambridge at The Nook in 2019 - Credit: EACH

It’s been a memorable few days for a very important and popular figure here in Norfolk.

The Duchess of Cambridge celebrated her 40th birthday on January 9 and, coincidentally, it came just five days after another important milestone – the tenth anniversary of becoming East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices’ (EACH) Royal Patron.

That momentous day was a particularly special one in our charity’s proud history.

In the decade since, she has been immensely supportive, especially in terms of her backing for our new hospice, The Nook, in Framingham Earl.

Her immense profile has projected the charity and the importance of children’s hospice services onto a national and international stage – catapulting it way beyond our home counties, including Norfolk.

The Duchess’ support comes with warmth, empathy and understanding, including beyond public view, and her patronage is enjoyed and appreciated by everyone at EACH. For all involved, it represents a huge privilege, just as much now as in January 2012.

Seven years later, she joined us at the opening of The Nook, in November 2019.

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She had previously attended the launch of our fundraising appeal in 2014 and visited our former hospice in Quidenham, in 2017.

Speaking before unveiling a plaque with the help of four children who she dubbed “my little army of helpers”, she said: “EACH was one of the very first charities I decided to become patron of after my marriage. While a lot has changed since then, my commitment and support for this wonderful organisation and the work that you do has not.”

She has met numerous children, young people and their families along the way – and the feedback afterwards is always unswervingly positive.

Everyone, including staff, appreciates the generous and very personal time she spends with them.

Another memorable example came when she officially opened our shop in Holt, in March 2016.

After chatting to local schoolchildren, she showed her humour by picking up a blue hat in the shop that matched her outfit.

After meeting volunteers and supporters, she bought a couple of items for George and Charlotte, before cutting the ribbon with the help of two families receiving our care.

There are so many other examples of The Duchess’ unwavering commitment to EACH.

In June 2016, for example, she was a guest at the Taste of Norfolk fundraising dinner at Houghton Hall.

Then there are her very personal written and filmed annual messages of support for Children’s Hospice Week.

In 2013, we were honoured the awareness week was chosen by The Duchess for her first public video message and she recorded another at Quidenham in 2017.

Last year’s message was especially poignant, given the tremendous strain of the pandemic.

In a heartfelt open letter, she praised the “remarkable” and “life-changing” work of hospices like those at The Nook.

As ever, her words showcased the work and importance of hospices. They also reflected her undoubted commitment to the people that matter most – the children, young people and families.

In the last decade, the patronage has created so many different and very special experiences for children and families, including The Duchess even joining forces to plant a new patio garden at The Nook.

A keen gardener, The Duchess brought along flowers, plants and herbs sourced personally from a nearby garden centre.

The impact of the patronage has been significant for us and The Duchess has become a hugely respected part of our organisation.

Her involvement is truly genuine.

The Duchess makes such a difference to staff, volunteers and the children, young people and families who need our care.

We are extremely thankful and consider ourselves honoured and very lucky to benefit from her hard work, generosity and support.

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