Gallery: Duchess’s passion a true inspiration at Treehouse

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, visits the East Anglian Childrens Hospice in Ipswich t

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, visits the East Anglian Childrens Hospice in Ipswich to officially open the Treehouse. The Duchess of Cambridge delivers her speech. NOT FOR SALE - Credit: Archant

It was a year ago that the Duchess of Cambridge and the world’s media came to Ipswich to visit The Treehouse. But what did her visit mean for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH)

OF course the weather was different a year ago than it is at the moment.

In fact, it was bright and sunny when the Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Ipswich to visit The Treehouse and make her first public speech.

It was a global media event with broadcasters and journalists from all over the world descending on the scene.

EACH basked in the reflected glory of the royal visit, determined to make the most of its high-profile royal patronage.

But what does the association with the glamorous wife of Prince William mean?

Lindsey Newton, press and media officer for EACH, said: “When we were first made aware she would be our royal patron there was great interest in what the charity does, it raised our profile immediately.

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“Having the Duchess gave a huge boost to the work we do and raised the profile of children’s palliative care across the world. People understood what we are and what we do.”

Kate’s patronage and subsequent high-profile visit have also helped when it comes to getting much-needed funds through the door.

Patsy Johnson-Cisse, Suffolk fundraiser for EACH – which runs three hospices in Ipswich, Milton and Quidenham – said the organisation needed to find £5.75 million a year from voluntary donations.

She said: “That’s £15,000 a day so we need to find £5,000 a day in Suffolk. A lot of people put on fundraising events for EACH and we have a lot of events coming up.”

However, the Duchess’s patronage doesn’t mean the much-needed cash doesn’t have to be worked for.

Patsy said: “I don’t think people have as much cash for charity as they used to and they are more selective about where it goes. Having the press and media attention resulting from the Duchess’s patronage has been really helpful. Our profile is high and people think of EACH.”

Patsy said the Duchess received regular updates from the charity.

She added: “She is very involved and she is passionate about the work we do, she is not simply a name on a letter-head.”

Children’s Hospice Week 2013 will take place from Friday, April 26 to Friday, May 3. It is an event that Sarah Parnell hopes will continue to raise awareness for the charity that is providing a lifeline for her and her son Bobby.

The 27-year-old said Bobby, who is now 10 months old, was a month old when she noticed something was wrong.

She said: “He wasn’t supporting his head for some reason and I realised he wasn’t really developing properly.”

Referred to Ipswich Hospital, Bobby went through a number of tests. No formal diagnosis has been made but his condition includes global development delay and microcephallus.

Sarah said: “It means he has a small brain. We got referred to The Treehouse from the hospital and we started coming here in January.”

Sarah said The Treehouse offered her respite care facilities and she stayed overnight at the hospice once a month.

She added: “Bobby loves coming here and he loves the music therapy and the sensory room.”

Sarah also takes part in the family support sessions.

She said: “This is a lovely place and it is here for families. We look forward to coming here – there is a lovely atmosphere and it feels like a big family unit. Bobby is very happy here and he benefits from being here as there is the right equipment and expertise.”

She added: “I am a big fan of the Duchess, I admire what she does.”

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