The Duchess of Cambridge, in her role as the patron, attended a gala dinner for the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (AFNCCF) at The Orangery at Kensington Palace last evening.
One of the young boys she met at the event, Tyrell Llewelyn, she had met once before during a visit to the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in 2015. He is now back in mainstream school after receiving support from AFNCCF, and the Duchess told him “well done” on this accomplishment.
She also met his father Wayne Llewelyn who said about the Duchess’s attendance, “It makes a difference that the Duchess of Cambridge has taken an interest in this.”
AFNCCF said that they were “delighted” to have the Duchess of Cambridge, as their patron, “showing her support for our new Centre of Excellence.”
Her Royal Highness, who is expecting her third child with the Duke of Cambridge in April, was seated at a table in the midst of everyone, and when a film was shown during the evening featuring Tyrell, he made a joke directed at the Duchess which set her into a fit of giggles.
Guests dined on a butter-poached chicken breast, baby leeks wild mushrooms, salsify, potato terrine, pat and black olive crumble, Szechuan pepper ice cream and Apple tart.
They were also given an update on the new £39 million Centre of Excellence which is currently under construction. Bryan Ferry also provided the musical entertainment at the event hosted by Kate Silverton, a broadcaster and child mental health campaigner. Silverton described the work of AFNCCF as “incredible.”
Ahead of the event, Silverton stated, “What we experience when we are very young goes a long way to influencing the adult we become. Children’s mental health is one of the most important issues for society today and finding solutions to achieving balance and wellbeing as adults has to start with understanding the importance of our early years.
“Using evidence-based research is crucial to that understanding, and it’s why I’m delighted to be supporting the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Their Centre of Excellence for children and families, bringing together clinical practice, research, policy makers and the families themselves will transform mental health services for children and families in the UK and beyond.”
The Duchess only stayed at the gala for around an hour and forty minutes as she had to leave before the auction began. Royals are not allowed to be present at auctions; auction brochures are not even permitted to be placed at the table at which the royals are seated. Before exiting the event, Catherine made sure to go out of her way to say goodbye to Kate Silverton.
The chief executive of AFNCCF, Peter Fonagy, said that the royal is “very interested in maternal mental health…She’s particularly concerned that mothers’ mental health plays a major role in this and that we are able to support mothers to support their children.”
An anonymous source also called the Duchess of Cambridge a “perfect patron” who is always keen to learn more about the organisation and mental health.
Kensington Palace has said that Her Royal Highness “has a continued desire to draw attention to child mental health issues, and the important work that AFNCCF is doing in this space.”
Like Silverton, the Duchess of Cambridge released a statement ahead of last night’s gala, “As parents, we all want our children to have the best possible start in life. Encouraging children to understand and be open about their feelings can give them the skills to cope with the ups and downs that life will throw at them as they grow up.
“It’s important that our children understand that emotions are normal and that they have the confidence to ask for help if they are struggling.”
The vision of is AFNCCF “a world where children and families are supported effectively to build on their strengths and to achieve their goals in life. We will continue to promote resilience and well-being in children, young people and families, as we have for over 60 years.”
Fonagy echoed this last evening stating, “One of the things that we are interested in is intervening as early as possible in children’s lives to improve their chances of good mental health throughout life.”
About the new centre, he added, “Most research takes 70 years to benefit people on the ground. We want to see the instant implementation and benefits from our research. What we can do in this new centre of excellence will be unique in this country, maybe even in the world.”