A grieving mother who lost her 89-day-old baby has spoken out about how The Duchess of Cambridge helped her at a tough time.
Leigh Smith lost her daughter, Beatrice, in February due to a rare heart condition, restrictive cardiomyopathy. Tomorrow, 28th November, would have been Beatrice’s first birthday.
Mrs Smith wrote to The Duchess of Cambridge, as Patron of EACH, after her daughter’s death, explaining how the charity had helped her and her family through their difficult time. Kate sent a personal reply to Leigh, expressing her sympathy to Leigh, her husband, Toby, and their 4-year-old son, Elliott.
Speaking to The Daily Mail, Leigh said: ‘In the weeks after Beatrice had died, and knowing that she was patron of EACH, I felt compelled to write to her and tell her our experience of the wonderful service that they provide. I wanted to highlight to her how important child palliative care, and in particular bereavement services are to families like mine who are facing their worst and most devastating nightmares.
‘I was so touched to receive her reply, hand signed, and obviously written from the heart. It was clear from her words that she is so passionate about children hospice care and EACH. It also touched me that my little girl had received a letter from The Princess, my son Elliott thought that was pretty cool to tell his friends.
‘Being invited to personally meet The Duchess at the launch event was therefore pretty amazing and finding out it was to be held in the week that Beatrice would have turned one made it even more special.
Catherine attended the launch of the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) fundraising appeal on Tuesday, and heard the tragic story of the Smith’s loss once more. The 33-year-old said that Kate’s instinctive reaction as a mother herself was a comfort at a particularly difficult time. he Duchess teared-up and was clearly affected by Leigh’s story, as mother to George, one, with her second child due in April 2015.
‘Meeting her was a moment I will never forget. She was very natural and engaging, and when I mentioned the letter she asked me how I was coping and what services EACH had been able to offer since.
‘She expressed her sadness at the death of Beatrice, and as two mums of very similar age, I could see that it must have been hard but she seemed to genuinely care which was lovely.’
As The Duchess was to leave, she saw Mrs Smith, a physiotherapist from Norwich, and made a beeline for her. Leigh said that Catherine had to negotiate a table and a high-chair to reach her, and then gave her a hug in front of all the people there, calling her a ‘brave lady’.
‘My voice was faltering and emotionally it was really hard,’ Mrs Smith admitted.
‘She was a bit teary eyed and I certainly was, I think it just proves how much she cares and how natural she is as a person, showing such empathy and understanding as a mother.
‘This week will be a difficult as its Bea’s first birthday on Friday but as a parent you hope that your children will make you proud. As a mother I could not be prouder of my children and what they have achieved. My little girl has achieved more in her 89 days of life, through the telling of her story, and what she has inspired than I think most of us can achieve in a lifetime.’
Photo: © Chloe Howard 2014