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Her Majesty The Queen, visited Helen & Douglas House on Tuesday 13th July to meet families supported by the hospice in the garden to learn how they have been coping with the pandemic.

Her Majesty The Queen who became patron of Helen & Douglas House in 2007, was met by Vice LordLieutenant of Oxfordshire Brian Buchan and saluted by his cadet Flight Sergeant Henry Southey. The Vice-Lord Lieutenant introduced Lord Blair of Boughton, who is chair of Trustees at Helen & Douglas House on arrival who then introduced Andrea Lambert, Clinical Director at the hospice, Andrea took Her Majesty The Queen around the garden to meet families and staff who work here.

Her Royal Highness with Lauren, David and Finley Pomeroy.

During the visit, Her Majesty The Queen met five families in the garden, some of which are bereaved whose children have sadly died and other families were there with their children who visit the hospice for short supportive stays. They talked to Her Majesty The Queen about the challenges they have faced over the past 18 months during the pandemic and how Helen & Douglas House helped them through this difficult time.

Her Royal Highness with karen and darren field

It has been a really tough time for these families because many of them have been shielding and they have felt isolated because they have not had their normal support from carers or family members so many of them were exhausted caring for their child 24/7.  But the hospice has remained open throughout the pandemic for these families, providing vital short supportive stays and emergency pain relief.

It has also been a worrying time where families needed reassurance and support from Helen & Douglas House more than ever, to try and keep their children safe, pain-free, and out of hospital.  Helen & Douglas House has flexed their services to ensure the children have access to specialised care in their preferred place with many of them wanting more support at home.

Her Royal Highness with Kim and Toby O'Grady.

Her Majesty The Queen was shown paper butterflies on one of the trees in the garden by Jake and Zoe Lynch from Abingdon whose son Toby died aged 4 months in June 2020.  These had messages from bereaved families written at the Butterfly Bimble memory walk at Blenheim Palace in May this year to remember their children who had died.

Her Royal Highness with Lord Ian Blair and Andrea Lambert.

After Her Majesty The Queen had met the families, Lord Blair of Boughton, gave a short speech thanking Her Majesty The Queen for visiting on behalf everyone at the visit. Her Majesty then said a few words, where Her Majesty praised our really special hospice dedicated to caring for children. She said ‘I just wanted to thank all of you – all the staff and all the volunteers and all the parents and families, because I know how hard it is for them, but somehow this place has a way of sort of uplifting you. I know how well people are looked after. I know it cares and it encapsulates the whole family, it’s not just the child. It’s the parents who are looked after as well too.’

Fatima Ali, from Maidenhead, presented Her Majesty The Queen with a posey of flowers, gifted by Bloomin’ Chic Florists, just before Her Majesty left. Fatima has been coming to Helen & Douglas House since April 2016 for short supportive stays.  Her sister, Sana, was also supported by Helen & Douglas House but sadly died last year.

Her Royal Highness with 5 Vaida, Aqsad Ali and daughter Fatima

Her Majesty The Queen last visited the hospice in May 2017.  Annually, Her Majesty invites children and their families supported by the charity, along with hospice staff to Clarence House to decorate the Christmas tree there.  The last time this was undertaken was in 2019 which was the 10th year. Her Majesty The Queen hosted a zoom call with Helen & Douglas House last year and a magical virtual Christmas Tree decorating event on zoom.