The WellChild Awards, one of the annual highlights of Harry’s public calendar, honors gravely sick children and their caregivers.
Harry, 33, who has been patron of WellChild since 2007, and Meghan, 37, attended a pre-awards reception, meeting winners and their families, an occasion where Harry regularly doles out his trademark hugs and charms the room of caregivers, families and friends with his close attention to their individual stories.
Meghan opted for one of her go-to looks for the event: a black pantsuit by Altuzarra paired with a shirt by Deitas. She styled her hair in a low side messy bun.
Speaking at last year’s awards, Harry said, “These awards were created to shine a bright light on an amazingly brave group of children and young people, on their lives, and on the resolve they and their families have shown to overcome challenges. Life for families caring for seriously ill children is exceptionally tough. And without WellChild it is even tougher.”
More than 100,000 children and young people in the U.K. are living with serious or exceptional health needs, and many spend years in the hospital because there is no support enabling them to leave. Meanwhile, those who are at home face inconsistent and inadequate levels of support.
Among this year’s WellChild Honorees:
• Matilda Booth, 7. Paralyzed with spina bifida from the chest down, she has had brain surgery seven times, among more than 40 operations.
• Mckenzie Brackley, 4, battled Acute Flaccid Paralysis following a virus. Mckenzie “cheers up everyone when they are low, and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face,” the charity says.
• Chloe Henderson, 10, was born 10 weeks early and has cerebral palsy. She is the first differently abled child to pass her pre-primary ballet award with the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance.
• Jamie Jobson, 10, has a complex range of conditions, including CIPO, which severely affects his intestines. “Jamie is determined to be independent,” the charity says. “He speaks through signing and his mischievous character always shines through.”
•Poppy Slater, 13, battles Crohn’s Disease. She has had extensive hospital stays and takes significant medication to keep her condition in remission, as there is no cure. Despite tiredness and nausea she works hard at school and participates in many clubs such as the writers and illustrators club, debate society and drama club and she is even learning Latin.
• Jake Stacey, 12, loves acting and has had small TV parts, despite years of being told he couldn’t audition for roles because of his spinal muscular atrophy.
• Evie Toombes, 16, was born with spina bifida. She blogs and mentors young people with health problems to encourage them.
• Cameron Dixon, 16, was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy and was not expected to live long. “His mum says he has achieved so much, although school and education is incredibly challenging for him he never gives up,” WellChild says. He is a junior political editor for a magazine and has been to both Scottish and English Parliament to interview politicians.
• Scarlett Mathison, 10, cares for her differently abled 13-year-old sister Freya. “Scarlett is very selfless, she understands totally that Freya requires a lot of care and attention, her only concern is her sister and having her well,” says WellChild.
• Jacob Granger, 17, cares for his sister Melissa, who has Angelman syndrome, which leaves her in need of 24-hour care. His determination and patience have resulted in Melissa learning first to crawl and then walk.
• Geraldine Phillips has been a children’s diabetes nurse at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, for more than 20 years. When she started as the lone nurse covering a large clinic population, she quickly helped establish a support group for families, including organizing an annual activities weekend. The residential weekend is an innovative service in Wales that helps children meet other young people with diabetes.
• Dr. Alf Bass is an orthopedic surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital who has pioneered changes in the orthopedic management of children with cerebral palsy, radically shifting the emphasis from surgery to rehabilitation.
In a moving speech, Harry said: “First, let me congratulate all of those nominated tonight. Every one of you is truly amazing. You have shown all of us what it means to be a champion – whether for yourself, your family, your community, or someone in need.
“The stories that we’ve all just heard – of resilience, strength of spirit, and the power of working together – were without doubt, incredibly moving and motivating. They really sum up what WellChild is all about – giving families the best chance to care for their children at home, and supporting them through the reality of all that that entails.
“I would like to thank all the families here this evening. The mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, and many other family members who are devoted to their children and are giving them the best care possible. You are such fierce advocates for your children and in doing everything in your power to give your family the best chance at a happy life. It is quite simply amazing.”