The Duchess of Cornwall meets children and their families at Helen & Douglas House

The Duchess of Cornwall has praised the work of staff and volunteers during a visit to Helen & Douglas House children's hospice, saying: “I wish there were more of these hospices.”

Her Royal Highness visited the Oxford-based hospice and heard how youngsters and their families were supported during the pandemic. Helen & Douglas House was able to provide much-needed help remotely via video calls on issues such as medication when the nation was in lockdown.

The Duchess of Cornwall meets families at Helen & Douglas House hospice
The Duchess of Cornwall meets families at Helen & Douglas House children's hospice in Oxford

The Duchess told the invited families and staff: “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.”

Zoe and Jake Lynch, from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, told The Duchess of Cornwall how after their 12-week-old son Toby was diagnosed with a rare neurometabolic disease, they came to the hospice for end-of-life care during the pandemic last May.

The couple spent five weeks with their son before he died and still receive help from the institution.

Her Royal Highness told the couple: “That’s what’s so wonderful about the Helen & 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.”

Since 1982, Helen & Douglas House has been caring for local terminally ill children and their families from Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties, providing medical, emotional and practical support. The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of the hospice.

Every Christmas, The Duchess hosts children from Helen & Douglas House at Clarence House for a tree-decorating lunch, but the event was held virtually last year due to the pandemic.

At the end of the event, Her Royal Highness met nine-year-old Fatima and her mother and father Vaida and Aqsad Ali, whose daughter was unable to take part in the festive event as she was unwell, and The Duchess promised to invite her to this year’s celebrations.

Before leaving, the wheelchair-bound youngster, from Maidstone in Berkshire, who has a neurodegenerative condition, presented HRH with a bouquet of flowers.