Ten of our children from Helen & Douglas House joined the former HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to decorate the Christmas tree at Clarence House on Wednesday 16th December via a video link. Each year, The former Duchess of Cornwall invites children from Helen & Douglas House, to decorate the Christmas tree at Clarence House. Keen to continue her annual tradition this December, this event took place virtually with nine children and families supported by Helen & Douglas House joining via video link.
Her Royal Highness became Patron of Helen & Douglas House in 2007 and this will be the eleventh time that families, supported by the charity, have been invited to decorate the Clarence House Christmas tree. The Duchess of Cornwall welcomed the children and their families and spoke individually to each family asking them about what they wanted Santa to bring them for Christmas and discussed how Helen & Douglas House helps their family.
The hospice had sent Clarence House a homemade bauble with each of the children’s name on. The children, or their families, chose where they wanted their decoration placed on the tree and Captain Charles Ross, Assistant Equerry, dressed in his full guardsman’s uniform, with a busby to the delight of the children, then placed their decorations on the tree, in some cases with his sword to reach the higher branches.
Nathan Best from Banbury who loves singing when he comes to the hospice, sang ‘We Wish you a Merry Christmas’ to the former Duchess of Cornwall.
Clare Periton, Chief Executive of Helen & Douglas House said ‘The children and families who took part had such a magical time. It is such a great privilege to have The former Duchess of Cornwall who was our Patron. This virtual event was a wonderful occasion and a real success. All our families really enjoyed the virtual Christmas tree decorating with former HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Nathan’s wonderful rendition of ‘We Wish you a Merry Christmas’ for former HRH The Duchess of Cornwall was beautifully sung and enjoyed by everyone. For our families, Christmas is a time when they can make precious memories which they will treasure forever and this will certainly be one that they will always remember.
‘Our aim this Christmas is to ensure that none of our families feels alone or isolated over the festive season, giving them the reassurance that we are there to give them our 24/7 emergency lifeline of care if needed.’
Kirsty Greenough Ella’s mum from Oxford said ‘It was a truly amazing opportunity for us all. The thought of Ella’s bauble on the Christmas tree at Clarence House is just a moment we will remember for the rest of our lives.
‘We can’t thank Helen & Douglas House and the former HRH The Duchess of Cornwall enough for letting us experience this moment. Throughout this lockdown we have received hampers, presents and most importantly we have received care from Helen & Douglas House though phone calls which has reassured us, especially with Ella when she hasn’t been too well. ‘Helen & Douglas House hospice has helped us as a family in so many ways. When you have a child that has complex medical needs, life is tough as you are always worrying and wondering what’s going to happen next.
‘But for any concerns we have, Helen & Douglas House has always been there for us, just for a chat or to have a bit of respite so we can recharge our batteries as parents and for this, we will never forget them.
‘Without them, we don’t know what we would do. They make a very bad situation and turn it into fun happiness which makes you forget for a while of what you’re going through. We are truly thankful to them for being there for us and many other families and most of all they always make Ella smile.
Jenny Best, Nathan’s mum from Banbury said ‘Helen & Douglas House is a magical place. Somehow it manages to take my worries away. Getting to video call the former HRH The Duchess of Cornwall was an extra special treat.
‘This year has had many low points, but today was a very good and special memory. Watching my son’s Christmas decoration being put on the most beautiful tree in Clarence House by the guardsman was a real honour. It made us as a whole family feel extra special.’
Nathan Best aged 9 from Banbury said ‘Today was the best day EVER. My decoration was red and had my name on it.’
Emily Tammam, Neve’s mum from Oxford said ‘It was wonderful to be part of the virtual tree decorating with the former Duchess of Cornwall. She seemed immediately interested when she heard that Neve and I were at Helen & Douglas House and I got the impression that this was a charity that held a special place in her heart and that she knew how important their work is. Neve was only diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2020 and with all the restrictions in place, we have met very few other families, which has made our experience feel even more lonely than usual. So seeing all the other families on the video call made us feel part of something and just a little bit less alone.’
Vicky Jessica’s mum from High Wycombe said ‘It was an honour for Jessica to be invited to meet The former Duchess of Cornwall and to have her bauble hung on the Christmas Tree at Clarence House. What struck me was how personal the experience felt, and knowing that the baubles from all the children who took part will be part of the Christmas celebration for the former Duchess and her family this Christmas.
‘Helen & Douglas House have been such a support to us throughout these difficult times, offering both remote and in-house medical support. Knowing that they are there to help us, 24 hours a day gives families like ours the reassurance we need to continue caring for our poorly children.’
Karen, Max’s mum from Chesham said ‘We were so pleased to be asked and it was an honour to talk with The former Duchess of Cornwall. Max and Martha enjoyed seeing the guardsman putting the baubles on their tree. We were also really excited to receive a parcel of goodies from the Palace the following day.
We really value the input of Helen & Douglas House, from spending time there as a family making memories and getting a good night sleep while Max is cared for, to knowing we have someone we can call 24 hours a day for expert advice or just a chat.’
Janeta, Sienna’s mum from Marlborough said ‘The recent virtual decoration of the Clarence House Christmas tree, with the former Duchess of Cornwall was a cherished experience for both my daughter and I must confess myself. The former Duchess of Cornwall was instantly engaging, showing compassion and interest in all aspects of my daughter’s life and the areas she cares about. For a minute or two, my daughter was able to envisage herself living life as a princess, which brought a broad smile to my face.
‘The work the former Duchess of Cornwall did as a Patron of Helen & Douglas House, who offer respite and much more, for families and children with complex medical conditions, is truly remarkable and uplifting. I cannot imagine how my life would be without the assistance and support Helen & Douglas House provide. And, with the engagement of the former HRH Duchess of Cornwall, it has made this Christmas truly feel special!’
Danielle Wilkinson Pippa’s Mum from Maidenhead said ‘Todays virtual decorating of the Christmas tree was very lovely and a special way to mark this Christmas season. We enjoyed being a part of today and watching the other children and their singing, smiling and dogs, and of course, it was very special to speak with the former Duchess of Cornwall who kindly hosted the event and helped make the children feel very special.’
‘Helen & Douglas House is a very special place and they have made a huge difference to us all since Pippa has been under their care. Advice and support are never more than a phone call away and respite stays make such a difference to the whole family because we can all spend quality time together as mum, dad and big brother without being on constant alert and call to care for all her complex needs. Helen & Douglas House provides wonderful medical care and support whilst also enabling children to have experiences they may not otherwise have, in a safe environment where we know we can turn to for help if and when it’s needed. As well as being there during the hard times, It’s filled with so much love and smiles too, which mean the world to families under their care’.
Helen & Douglas House cares for local terminally ill children and their families at the hospice, at home and in hospital. We provide medical, emotional and practical support, helping families deal with the implications of living with a child who will die prematurely, so they can make the most of their time together.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to care for our families when and where they need us by providing symptom control support and end of life care at the hospice and at home. You can help support us by making a donation today.