Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of Helen & Douglas House, hosted a magical Christmas party at Clarence House on Thursday 6th December, for five of the children and their families who are cared for by our hospice. They were invited along with children from Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s charity to Clarence House to decorate the Christmas tree, to join Her Royal Highness for lunch and meet some special reindeer.
Helen & Douglas House cares for local terminally ill children and their families from Buckinghamshire and the surrounding counties. We provide medical, emotional and practical support at the hospice in Oxford and at home, 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.
Her Royal Highness became Patron of Helen & Douglas House in 2007 and this was the ninth time that families supported by the charity, along with hospice staff, have been invited to Clarence House at Christmas.
The Duchess of Cornwall made her way around the room to welcome the children and their families individually and then led them through to an adjacent room with a beautiful Christmas tree and table full of decorations, so the children could decorate the tree. Assistant Equerry Jack Farmelo, of 1st Battalion of the Welsh Guards, helped the children decorate the tree and then gave them the opportunity to try on his bearskin hat.
The children sat down to a sausages and mash lunch made into smiley faces served by The Duchess of Cornwall and then enjoyed Christmas goodies such as cakes, gingerbread, chocolate coins and oranges. The Duchess gave the children goody bags to take home, containing a corgi teddy keyring, a book and a Christmas tree decoration. The Duchess then told the children she had surprise for them and took them outside to meet two ‘Randwick’ reindeer, Dancer and Blitzen, for the children to feed and stroke which they thoroughly enjoyed.
The Duchess of Cornwall said at the end of the visit ‘I hope you all enjoyed today and I just wanted to wish you all a very happy Christmas. The tree decorating for me is always the start of Christmas.’
12-year-old Jasper who is a Chelsea FC fan, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which is a progressive muscle wasting condition. Jasper was delighted when The Duchess offered him a second helping of his favorite dinner and Jasper said that The Duchess is a ‘beautiful lady’. When asked if she was his new best friend, he added: ‘Probably.’
Nicola Grannum Jasper’s Mum said ‘He was diagnosed when he was two and lost the ability to walk when he was 11. He loves his sports and used to play football, but now he plays wheelchair football. Jasper has so much fun when he goes to stay at Helen & Douglas House and is very well cared for – the staff are amazing. It’s home-from-home.’
‘Everything at Clarence House was magical, the tree, the staff, sausages and mash and the reindeers. The Duchess was very warm and lovely.’
Clare Periton, Chief Executive of Helen & Douglas House said ‘For the children and their families and carers, this is always such a magical and special occasion. It is such a great privilege to have The Duchess of Cornwall as our patron and for us to be invited into her home. Everyone really enjoyed the visit to Clarence House and the special surprise of meeting the reindeer. Helen & Douglas House helps the families we care for live life to the full even though a child’s life may be short. For our families Christmas is a time when they can make precious memories which they will treasure forever. I am sure the families who were invited to Clarence House will treasure the memory of this special day for many years to come.’
Help local terminally ill children like Jasper this Christmas
You can donate now to help them as a family and others who receive care from Helen & Douglas House and help to spread a little magic this year.