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Her Majesty The Queen hosted a magical Christmas visit at Clarence House on Wednesday 6th December, for five children and their families who are cared for by our hospice. Iris, age 7, Jack, age 9, Dotty, age 8, Elliot, age 5 and Isla, age 7, all went to Clarence House with their parents and siblings accompanied by Jane Long, the charity’s Chief Executive, and other hospice staff.

Her Majesty The Queen became Patron of Helen & Douglas House in 2006 and this was the seventeenth time that families supported by the charity, along with hospice staff, have been invited to decorate the Clarence House Christmas tree.

The magical day began with a surprise visit from Father Christmas, which the children thoroughly enjoyed. Her Majesty then welcomed each of the children and their families individually, leading them through to the library, where there was a beautiful Christmas tree and table full of decorations so that the children could take it in turns to add one to the tree.

The children also met Her Majesty’s Equerry, Oliver Plunket, who carefully placed some of the decorations on the tree with his sword, to cheers of delight. Some of the children also placed the decorations on the tree together with Her Majesty.

As an extra surprise as the families left Clarence House, they were treated to a wonderful performance of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ by the Band and Bugles of The Rifles and Father Christmas was waiting outside with his reindeer to say goodbye.

Jane Long, Chief Executive of Helen & Douglas House said:

‘The children and families had such a magical time. It was wonderful for the families we care for to be able to visit Clarence House again this Christmas. Christmas can be a difficult time for these families, juggling the medical needs of their children with life-shortening conditions with the festivities. Christmas is also a time when they can make precious memories during their child’s short life which they will treasure forever, and this will certainly be an occasion that they will always remember.’

Dorothy Taylor, known as Dotty, has been coming to Helen & Douglas House since 2021.

Liz, Dotty’s Mum said:

“Getting a diagnosis like Cockayne Syndrome came as a real shock for us. Described as a life-limiting condition, we weren’t sure how to make it a great life. Today, we made the most incredible memories.  Dotty pulling Her Majesty The Queen in for a cuddle and giving her the card she’d made at Helen & Douglas House, will stay with us forever. A very happy day, full of Christmas spirit, kindness and curtsying. Thank you to everyone involved.”

Helen & Douglas House has supported Jack Mead and his family since he was born.

Jack’s Mum, Mary, said:

“What a wonderful and magical experience. Her Majesty was so kind and thoughtful to the families and the children. Jack enjoyed decorating the tree with Her Majesty, meeting Father Christmas and ending the afternoon with feeding the reindeer. It was a truly magical experience and has put us all in the spirit of Christmas! Thanks to all involved for making the day a special memory with Jack.”

Helen & Douglas House cares for local terminally ill children and their families living in Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties. We are the world’s first children’s hospice and provide medical, emotional and practical support at our hospice in Oxford, at families’ homes, and in hospital. Our care helps families deal with the implications of living with a child who will die prematurely, so they can make the most of their time together.

If you would like to help local terminally ill children this Christmas, you can donate to the Helen & Douglas House Outreach appeal.

With your support, we will be there for local families who need us, whenever, wherever.