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October 05, 2015 05:00 PM

Prince Harry knows how to work a room full of kids.

During the WellChild Awards Awards in London on Monday, the royal, 31, clowned around with the “bravest children” in the U.K. at a gala for seriously ill kids and their families.

Harry, who is a patron of the organization, which works to ensure the best possible care and support for sick children and their families, spent quality time with some of the kids after hearing their inspirational stories.

In a moving speech, Harry told the proud families, “I am humbled by the people and children I meet. You guys are awesome.”

“The stories we have heard tonight are moving beyond words,” he continued. “They remind us of the utter insignificance of our everyday worries. Yet, one of the things that always stands out is the positivity shown by those in the most difficult and testing circumstances.”

He praised the work of the charity, commending its nurses for “provide life-changing assistance for so many families” and helping the children and young people climb the “mountains” they face on a daily basis.

“We literally have the bravest children in the U.K. in this room, he concluded.

The event was good practice for Harry, who recently admitted he “would love to have kids right now.” The proud uncle to Prince George and Princess Charlotte showed off his softer side when he charmed some of the award winners and their families at a pre-dinner reception.

Nine-year-old Nellie-Mai Evans, who was the winner of the Inspirational Young Person Award in the 7-10 age group, made Harry laugh as she hit him with a balloon animal and asked, “Are you a clown? Can you make me a balloon animal please?”

Prince Harry meets Nellie-Mai Evans, 9, winner of the Inspirational Young Person Award in the 7-10 year-old age group.
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“I will try to, but I can t make any promises, Harry replied.

The prince also received a gift from 7-year-old Ruby Smallman, the country s most caring young person, who was nominated for her care of her older sister, Holly, 13. The teen s healthcare needs include quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy and lung disease.

Her mother, Hayley Smallman, told reporters, “She told me she wanted to make a present for him and we went to a friend s pottery studio, called Fishfingers in Liverpool, where she decided to make him a penguin as she knew he had been to the South Pole.

Prince Harry receives a gift from Ruby Smallman, 7.
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“She was insistent about a couple of things. The penguin had to have ginger hair, his medals and glitter snowballs, just because she thought he would like them. Oh, and it needed to have a crown on its head and a fish in its mouth.

“Harry seemed delighted and told her that he never normally gets presents for himself, he says he is always given them for other people. He told her that it was one of the nicest things he has received in a long time.”

Harry was also handed a present from Toby Sweeney-Croft, who gave him a basketball after hearing the prince played the wheelchair version, too.

Prince Harry speaks with Toby Sweeney-Croft, 9, and his mother Rebecca, who presented him with a basketball.
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When Harry said he couldn t accept it, Toby, 9, insisted, “It cost me 7!” Harry replied, “You can t tell me how much! Well, I would love to, on one condition. That when I am old and in my wheelchair we play and you thrash me.”

Toby, from Leicestershire, who was paralyzed from the chest down at the age of 3 after contracting a disease called acute disseminated encephlow myelitis, takes part in wheelchair triathlons and basketball.

Harry has attended the inspirational awards gala for several years.

“He is incredibly empathetic and understanding, not just of the children, but of the families as well,” WellChild CEO Colin Dyer tells PEOPLE.

“It is patience more than anything else. He has a genuine interest or genuine desire to make life better for those people, he adds. The most important skill is to listen and understand and he does that really, really well.”

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