Kate visits children's hospice

Herald Series: The Duchess of Cambridge visited the Shooting Star House Children's Hospice in Hampton, Middlesex The Duchess of Cambridge visited the Shooting Star House Children's Hospice in Hampton, Middlesex

The Duchess of Cambridge sang songs and played with a frog puppet at a children's hospice today.

Kate smiled broadly as she joined in with nursery rhymes and Christmas carols with youngsters with life-limiting conditions at Shooting Star House in Hampton, Middlesex.

The young mother played along and chatted to boys and girls with serious illnesses, and at one point shared a group hug with three young girls who gave her a posy of pink roses.

She seemed at ease as she met the families of the children being treated at the hospice, as well as the staff and volunteers.

Kate sat in a large circle next to music therapist Sarah Hodkinson, who played the guitar for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Jingle Bells and an adapted version of Old MacDonald Had A Farm.

During the farmyard nursery rhyme she offered five-year-old Demi-Leigh Armstrong a toy to pass to another child.

"Do you want to give him this one?" she asked.

"No!" the young girl replied, leaving Kate laughing and acting shocked.

Later Demi-Leigh, who had a kidney transplant after being diagnosed with a rare condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), hugged the duchess tightly and the pair gave each other a thumbs-up.

The hospice is run by Shooting Star Chase, a charity which cares for 650 children and young people with life-limiting conditions at its centres in Hampton and Guildford.

Kate became royal patron of East Anglia Children's Hospices (Each) following her marriage to the Duke of Cambridge and has become involved in the extended hospice network around the UK.

The duchess , who wore a grey jacket, dark blue jeans and black ankle boots for the 80-minute visit, spent some time talking with young mother Nicola Dasilva, from Merton in south London.

Ms Dasilva, 25, was with her 21-month-old son Frankie, who has infantile osteoporosis, a rare condition which affects the bones.

She said meeting Kate was "amazing".

"It was just an experience and a memory I'm never going to forget with Frankie," she said.

Ms Dasilva said she told the duchess how she spent three months at the hospice after she was told Frankie had one week to live.

"He was very, very poorly," she said. "But he's a fighter."

Kate told another mother, Louise Wilks from Harefield in north-west London, about "messy" play time with her baby George.

Ms Wilks said: "She asked me about my boys and how we use Shooting Star Chase and I told her how they like messy play.

"She said she has just introduced George to messy play and what fun it was."

Kate had a private meeting with parents who recently lost two young children to spinal muscular atrophy.

Their one-year-old daughter died three days ago, while their five-year-old son died of the condition seven weeks ago.

The family came to the hospice to spend time in the Tranquil Suite, where families are able to grieve.

Kate also met a group of volunteers to discuss their role and to understand how they support the hospice and its families.

The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry is developing a pilot for a volunteering programme to support families of children with life-limiting conditions.

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