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Duchess of Cambridge ‘blown away’ by Norwich family’s bravery during visit to children’s hospice

PUBLISHED: 22:00 27 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:05 28 June 2020

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with Sonny Pope-Saunders (seated left), his father, Jordan, and his brother, Hudson (back to camera, right) during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with Sonny Pope-Saunders (seated left), his father, Jordan, and his brother, Hudson (back to camera, right) during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge said she was “blown away” by the bravery of a family of a six-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour as she planted a sensory garden at a children’s hospice.

The Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Kate officially opened the nook in Framingham Earl on the outskirts of Norwich last November, a new £10m facility for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), for which the Duchess is a royal patron.

She returned to the centre on Thursday, June 25 to mark the end of Children’s Hospice Week by meeting staff to thank them for their hard work.

The Duchess of Cambridge shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Armed with plants bought during a visit to Fakenham Garden Centre a few days earlier, the Duchess also worked alongside staff, an EACH volunteer gardener and two families to create a garden containing sensory plants such as lavender, bay and rosemary, as well as strawberry plants, herbs, geraniums and hydrangeas.

The Duchess met the Pope-Saunders family from Jex Road in Norwich, who were introduced to EACH after their six-year-old son Sonny was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare and aggressive brain tumour.

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. The Duchess took the herbs and plants to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH) of which she is Royal Patron. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. The Duchess took the herbs and plants to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH) of which she is Royal Patron. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Sonny was diagnosed in February, days after his sixth birthday, and began radiotherapy at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. He was given between six and 10 months to live.

The Duchess taught Sonny, his sister Star, 11, and brother Hudson, eight, how to loosen plants from their pots to replant them.

The Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). PA Photo. The Duchess is the Royal Patron of the charity which offers care and support for children and young people with life-threatening conditions and their families across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). PA Photo. The Duchess is the Royal Patron of the charity which offers care and support for children and young people with life-threatening conditions and their families across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

She told them Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were having a sunflower-growing competition, and gave each child sunflower seeds. The sunflower has been adopted as the emblem of hospice care.

The Duchess, who has been living at Anmer Hall in west Norfolk during lockdown, told the family: “I’m always so blown away by families like yours, particularly having to go through all of this in lockdown. You show such resilience and bravery. You’re such an inspiration to us all.

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre. The Duchess took the herbs and plants to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH) of which she is Royal Patron. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre. The Duchess took the herbs and plants to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH) of which she is Royal Patron. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

“More people in the country should meet families like you, there’s a huge amount of change for you all to take on and you have coped fantastically.”

EACH helped Sonny’s parents Kelly and Jordan Pope-Saunders create a symptom management plan to spend as much time together as possible.

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. PA Photo. The Duchess took the herbs and plants to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH) of which she is Royal Patron. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. PA Photo. The Duchess took the herbs and plants to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH) of which she is Royal Patron. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

A final wish to visit Disneyland Paris was planned for April 20 but had to be rebooked for July 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

His mum hopes Sonny will still be in a condition to go, but said the family will plan something “a bit closer to home” if not.

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge said: “This Children’s Hospice Week, I’d like to thank the amazing staff for all the work that you do in children’s hospices around the UK. The care and the nurture that you provide children and families in the most unimaginable circumstances is just awe inspiring.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to all those families out there who are caring for and looking after a child with a life-limiting illness. You do the most extraordinary job and I know it’s particularly hard at the moment so my thoughts go out to you all.”

The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Mrs Pope-Saunders said after the visit: “She said they are having a sunflower-growing competition and Louis is winning, much to George’s annoyance.

“It was so nice to see her - and in such a lovely dress too - getting stuck in.”

The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

EACH acting chief executive Tracy Rennie said: “We’re privileged to have the continued support of the Duchess.

“We know the families we support have been and continue to go through particularly tough times at the moment, and at EACH we’ve had to rapidly adapt how we deliver care and support, while managing a considerable hit to our funding, so the Duchess’ support is a very welcome and much appreciated boost.”

The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). The Duchess is the Royal Patron of the charity which offers care and support for children and young people with life-threatening conditions and their families across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). The Duchess is the Royal Patron of the charity which offers care and support for children and young people with life-threatening conditions and their families across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

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Since 2012, she been royal patron of EACH, which operates across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire to care for children with life-threatening conditions and provide support to their families.

The Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). The Duchess is the Royal Patron of the charity which offers care and support for children and young people with life-threatening conditions and their families across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). The Duchess is the Royal Patron of the charity which offers care and support for children and young people with life-threatening conditions and their families across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Heartbreak over Disneyland dream

The Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Sonny’s mother said shielding during Covid-19 had not been too difficult, but that she felt valuable time to make memories with her son was being lost.

“Sonny’s been fine at home. He can’t walk or talk very well at the moment, but he’s happy and nothing phases him. Even when he was poorly and couldn’t eat for a little while, he didn’t moan. He never has done through all of this. He’s a trooper,” she said.

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge talks with a member of the public as she shops for plants and herbs at Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The family have enjoyed a day out to Banham Zoo thanks to EACH’s help.

But she said it was devastating to not be able to go to Disneyland Paris.

The Duchess of Cambridge meets Sonny Pope-Saunders and his family, including mother Kelly (right, back to camera) and father Jordan (left, back to camera) during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. Photo:: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge meets Sonny Pope-Saunders and his family, including mother Kelly (right, back to camera) and father Jordan (left, back to camera) during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. Photo:: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

“That was just heartbreaking when we couldn’t take him and we had to tell him,” she said.

“He just said ‘don’t worry, I’ll just go to Hemsby when it’s open’. That’s how cool and chilled he is.”

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with Sonny Pope-Saunders (seated left), his father Jordan, sister Star, and brother Hudson (standing right), during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge talks with Sonny Pope-Saunders (seated left), his father Jordan, sister Star, and brother Hudson (standing right), during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with Sonny Pope-Saunders (seated left), his father, Jordan, and sister Star (right), during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge talks with Sonny Pope-Saunders (seated left), his father, Jordan, and sister Star (right), during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge talks with Sonny Pope-Saunders (seated left), his father, Jordan, and sister Star (right), during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. PA Photo. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge talks with Sonny Pope-Saunders (seated left), his father, Jordan, and sister Star (right), during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Sonny was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat brain tumour, only a week or so after his sixth birthday in February. PA Photo. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA WireThe Duchess of Cambridge helps to pot plants and herbs during a visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, Norfolk, which is one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire


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