The Duchess of Cambridge helped create a new garden at the Nook, run by her charity East Anglia's Children's Hospices, as she praises "awe-inspiring" staff

By Simon Perry
June 27, 2020 05:00 PM
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Kate Middleton with the special sunflower for the Delf family
Simon Hempsall/EACH

Kate Middleton kept her vow to plant a sunflower in memory of a boy who was cared for by a hospice she supports.

Kate, 38, visited the Nook center in Norfolk on Thursday to help create a special garden for children and their families to enjoy. And while there, she potted a sunflower for the Delf family, whose son Fraser, 9, had been cared for by East Anglia Children’s Hospices before his death earlier this year.

Adding in a personal touch, she arrived at the Nook with her own terracotta pot and also brought along many of the other plants she sourced during a June 18 trip to Fakenham Garden Centre — her first public outing since lockdown.

Once at the Nook, she worked for about an hour with a volunteer gardener, EACH staff and some families helped by the charity, to plant the garden using sensory plants including lavender, bay, and rosemary. The calming scene also has strawberry plants, herbs, geraniums, and hydrangeas in a lilac color scheme.

The visit to the Nook, which Kate opened last year following a long fundraising campaign, was held during Children’s Hospice Week, a period that had begun with Kate joining Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in a call to the Delfs and hospices across Britain. During that call, Kate had promised to plant the sunflower. After Kate’s visit on Thursday, the sunflower was taken to the Delf family so they have it at home with them, in Cambridgeshire.

In a special message, the Duchess of Cambridge thanked “the amazing staff for all the work that you do in children’s hospices around the U.K.”

She added, “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.”

Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Joe Giddens/PA Wire

EACH cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk and supports their families. That service can include specialist nursing care, symptom management nursing, short breaks, wellbeing activities, therapies, counseling and volunteer services in the family home; all meeting the individual needs of the child, young person and whole family.

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The charity’s chief executive Tracy Rennie says in a statement to PEOPLE, “It was very exciting, as ever, to have the Duchess pay us a visit. She has done so much to raise awareness of EACH and children’s hospices across the country, so we were delighted at this further show of support during this year’s Children’s Hospice Week."

“The Duchess displayed her usual kind, compassionate and empathetic nature, and although it was a very hot day, she together with the families, Val our volunteer gardener and staff worked well and created a beautiful area full of sensory plants. Patio gardens such as this have various therapeutic values, so I’m sure it will be appreciated by others who have a chance to enjoy it.

“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, whilst managing a considerable hit to our funding, so the Duchess’s support is a very welcome and much appreciated boost.”

Children’s Hospice Week 2020 is organized by the UK charity Together for Short Lives and aims to celebrate and raise vital funds for the UK’s 54 children’s hospices.

During lockdown at their country home, Anmer Hall, Princess Kate and Prince William, have been enjoying gardening and other outside activities with their children Prince GeorgePrincess Charlotte and Prince Louis.