Princess Kate reached out to comfort a mom who was overcome by emotion at a children’s charity event in London Tuesday night.
Kate hugged Ceri Knapton after her son, Ethan, 13, told Kate how he used his battle with Autism and Asperger Syndrome to raise awareness of the condition to benefit others.
His mom told reporters, “I vowed that I wouldn’t cry but was just overcome listening to Ethan. The Duchess just leaned over and said to me ‘I’ve got to give you a hug as a mum.’ I couldn’t believe it. It was such a kind gesture.”
Kate was at the Place2Be Wellbeing in Schools Awards, which honored kids who have been inspiring examples of positive mental health in their schools.
There, at the special tea party in the Natural History Museum, she wore a printed tea dress by L.K. Bennett and revealed that Prince George’s favorite dinosaur was a T-Rex. For the awards show, she changed into the black gown and Prada shoes.
Kate chatted with a group of children at a reception before presenting two honors – the Child Champion and Young Person Champion awards at the ceremony, which is run by the charity that she has been patron of since 2013.
Ethan told Kate how he was bullied at primary school because of his undiagnosed conditions, which can lead to problems with concentration and tics that cause him to shout without even being aware of it.
“It was a very difficult time but my diagnosis helped me to cope with what I was experiencing. I decided that I wanted to speak out about it.There is no point in sitting back. I’d rather stand up and make a difference.”
And his mother Ceri, from Preston, Lancashire, told Kate, “It’s not been an easy few years but he makes me feel so proud. His Autism and Asperger aren’t labels but an explanation of what makes Ethan the boy he is. The fact that he wants to use that to benefit others less able to speak out is just amazing.”
The awards are for Place2Be partner schools who were invited to nominate inspiring ambassadors who have shown a remarkable commitment to championing children and young people’s mental health, and recognize the work of school leaders, teachers, support staff, parent champions, child champions and Place2Be colleagues who go above and beyond to enhance the life of the school community.
The charity works directly with more than 282 primary and secondary schools across Wales, Scotland and England, reaching a school population of over 116,000 pupils.
In a speech, Kate praised the finalists. “Tonight, we are celebrating the truly remarkable work taking place across Place2Be schools in support of children’s mental health.
“Without many of the inspiring people gathered here this evening, countless children would not receive such transformational support in their schools. It is because of so many of you, that in their time of need, children have the help, care and attention that will get them through tough times in their lives.”
“‘I am a firm believer that it is absolutely crucial to confront problems as early as possible, to prevent them from escalating into even greater issues later in life. This is why Place2Be’s work – prioritizing children’s emotional wellbeing from the outset – is so important.
She, William and Harry have set up their Heads Together campaign to end the stigma surrounding mental health that stops people getting the help that they need.
Kate added, “Our young Champion finalists here tonight are extraordinary. You have not only faced challenges but have had the resilience to overcome them. You have also, in your willingness to have open conversations, become young mental health pioneers.”