On 11 December, The Duchess of Cornwall will be joined by twelve children along with their caregivers from Helen & Douglas House to partake in Christmas tree decorating and luncheon at Clarence House, London.
The Helen & Douglas House provides young adults and children stricken with terminal illness with end of life care as well as emotional and hands on support for the families of their patients.
Since 2007, The Duchess has been Patron of Helen & Douglas House. For the past five years children from the hospice have attended the luncheon and Christmas tree decoration gathering each year.
Opening in November 1982, Helen House was the world’s first children’s hospice. It was started by Sister Frances Dominica who was friends with a terminally ill child named Helen. Helen lived with her parents but required around the clock care.
Helen House was established to help families manage by affording “occasional respite care modelled on that provided in the family home – personalised and tailored to individual needs,” according to their website. The Helen House is small in size, with just eight bedrooms, but allows families and children care and dignity as they face the inevitable.
In February 2004, a second building, Douglas House, was established for young adults 16 years of age and older. It was the first hospice its kind tailored to young people. Douglas House serves those aged 16 through 35.
The charity aids more than 400 families in Oxfordshire and neighbouring counties. The charity costs approximately £5 million each year for the running of both houses and is dependent on contributions for 85% of its yearly cost.