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Princess Alexandra becomes Patron of Children’s charity – Rockinghorse

Princess Alexandra has been appointed Royal Patron of the Sussex Children’s charity – Rockinghorse. The news came as The Queen’s cousin visited the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (The Alex) in Brighton.which was opened by Her Royal Highness in 2007.

The announcement completes a unique double for the Princess, The Queen’s cousin, has been the original children’s hospital Patron since 1954. Having accepted the role, Rockinghorse is now one of the only Sussex based charity’s to hold Royal Patronage.

Her Royal Highness takes over the patronage of the charity from Lady Mary Herries who sadly passed away in April of this year. Lady Mary was Lady-in-waiting to Princess Alexandra for over 50 years and was Rockinghorse’s one and only Patron in half a century, having duly accepted the invitation from Dr. Trevor Mann back in 1967 upon the formation of the charity.

Her Royal Highness greets charity staff at the reception following a tour of the hospital

During the visit, which took on Wednesday afternoon, Her Royal Highness met with Marianne Griffiths, Chief Executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Ryan Watkins, Consultant Neonatologist and Clinical Director of Children’s Services at The Alex; and Rockinghorse’s Chief Executive, Ryan Heal. The reception was joined by civic dignitaries including the High Sherriff and local MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

The hospital, which shares the 80-year-old’s name, was officially opened by the Princess in 2007.

Her Royal Highness then toured the hospital’s Children’s Emergency Department, the surgical ward and critical care unit where she spent time visiting staff, patients, and their families, before being welcomed at a reception hosted by the hospital and Rockinghorse.

HRH Princess Alexandra signing the guest’s visitors book with BSUH CEO Marianne Griffiths, Dr. Ryan Watkins, consultant neonatologist and Ryan Heal CEO Rockinghorse.

At the reception, the Princess unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark her visit celebrating 50 years of the Rockinghorse charity and 10 years of the new children’s hospital.

Ryan Heal, Rockinghorse Chief Executive, then presented Her Royal Highness with a specially commissioned diamond and gold Rockinghorse brooch designed by Brighton based jewellers, Posh Totty.

Mr Heal said: “As you can imagine, we are honoured to be awarded this visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra at such a prominent time in both the charity’s and hospital’s history. It has been a truly momentous occasion and I sincerely thank everyone across the region who continues to support our cause for the sick children of Sussex.” 

Rockinghorse Chief Executive Ryan Heal being presented to Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra

Marianne Griffiths, Chief Executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We’re very proud to welcome Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra to mark and celebrate 10 years of the new Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and 50 years of our dedicated partner charity Rockinghorse. The staff at The Alex work exceptionally hard to make a real difference for some of our smallest patients and the Care Quality Commission’s rating of ‘Outstanding’ for our children’s services is a reflection of that. We are enormously grateful for the support that Rockinghorse continue to provide and really value our partnership that is centred on going above and beyond for patients.”

Rockinghorse is a Brighton-based charity that has been supporting children in Sussex for 50 years. It was set up in 1967 by Dr Trevor Mann, who recognised there was a real need for additional resources to improve healthcare services for sick children and babies.

Best-known as the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, the charity has launched its ‘Sussex Giving for Sussex Children’ 50th-year appeal for 2017. They aim to provide £500,000 worth of funding which will be split between 10 children’s centres and paediatric services across Sussex. Rockinghorse strives to make these services stimulating, cutting-edge and accessible for the many children, babies and young people who need them by supporting some truly deserving projects.

Rockinghorse does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of individuals, community groups, companies and trusts. To find out more, visit

Photos courtesy of Rockinghorse

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