The Duchess of Cornwall paid a visit to Helen & Douglas House in Oxford on Tuesday, meeting families who are supported by the children’s hospice and learning how they have coped during the pandemic.
Camilla met with five families who have been supported by Helen & Douglas House and heard from staff and volunteers how they managed to pivot to video conferencing programmes to provide at-home support during the global health crisis when services were on lockdown.
One of the families Camilla spoke with was Zoe and Jake Lynch, who sought support from Helen & Douglas House for their infant son Toby, who received end-of-life care last year. They now fundraise in support of the House to show their gratitude.
The Duchess told the couple, “That’s what’s so wonderful about the Helen and Douglas, you get the aftercare, you’re not just left on your own, you’ve always got somebody to turn to – it’s a really special place.
“I wish there were more of these hospices; they are so important.”Embed from Getty Images
Camilla gave a short speech during her visit to thank everyone at the House: “I just wanted to thank all of you – all the staff and all the volunteers and all the parents and families, because I know how hard it is for them, but somehow this place has a way of sort of uplifting you.
“I know how well people are looked after; I know it cares, and it encapsulates the whole family, it’s not just the child, it’s the parents who are looked after as well.”
The Duchess of Cornwall also viewed paper butterflies that are displayed on a tree in the garden at Helen & Douglas House, which are hung with messages from bereaved families in honour of the children they have lost.Embed from Getty Images
Camilla became patron of Helen & Douglas House in 2007 and invites children supported by the hospice to Clarence House every December to help her decorate her Christmas tree.
The Helen & Douglas House was founded in 1982 as the world’s first children’s hospice. According to Clarence House, Helen & Douglas House “cares for local terminally ill children and their families from Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties. They provide medical, emotional and practical support, 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.”