Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of Helen & Douglas House, hosted a magical Christmas party at Clarence House on Thursday December 6, for five children and their families who are cared for by the children’s hospice including Harry Englefield, aged 9, from Aylesbury.
They were invited along with children from Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s charity to Clarence House to decorate the Christmas tree, to join Her Royal Highness for lunch and meet some special reindeer.
Helen & Douglas House cares for local terminally ill children and their families from Buckinghamshire and the surrounding counties. They provide medical, emotional and practical support at the hospice in Oxford and at home, 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.
The Duchess of Cornwall said at the end of the visit ‘I hope you all enjoyed today and I just wanted to wish you all a very happy Christmas. The tree decorating for me is always the start of Christmas.’
Harry has been coming to Helen & Douglas House for a year and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Harry’s Mum Sarah Englefield and his Dad Alan Englefield accompanied Harry to Clarence House. Sarah said: "Coming to Helen & Douglas House is everything and is time away from struggles at home for Harry.
"It was a real treat to go to Clarence House and it was a bit surreal to meet royalty. To have The Duchess give Harry his dinner was amazing."
Clare Periton, Chief Executive of Helen & Douglas House said: "For the children and their families and carers, this is always such a magical and special occasion.
"It is such a great privilege to have The Duchess of Cornwall as our patron and for us to be invited into her home. Everyone really enjoyed the visit to Clarence House and the special surprise of meeting the reindeer.
"Helen & Douglas House helps the families we care for live life to the full even though a child’s life may be short.
"For our families Christmas is a time when they can make precious memories which they will treasure forever. I am sure the families who were invited to Clarence House will treasure the memory of this special day for many years to come."
Her Royal Highness became Patron of Helen & Douglas House in 2007 and this was the ninth time that families supported by the charity, along with hospice staff, have been invited to Clarence House at Christmas.
The Duchess of Cornwall made her way around the room to welcome the children and their families individually and then led them through to an adjacent room with a beautiful Christmas tree and table full of decorations so the children could decorate the tree. Assistant Equerry Jack Farmelo, of 1st Battalion of the Welsh Guards, helped the children decorate the tree and the children then had the opportunity to try on his bearskin hat.
The children sat down to enjoy a sausages and mash lunch made into smiley faces served by The Duchess of Cornwall and then enjoyed Christmas goodies like cakes, gingerbread, chocolate coins and oranges.
The Duchess gave the children goody bags to take home containing a corgi teddy keyring, a book and a Christmas tree decoration. The Duchess told the children she had surprise for them and took them outside to meet two ‘Randwick’ reindeer, Dancer and Blitzen, for the children to feed and stroke.
If you would like to help local terminally ill children like Harry this Christmas, you can donate to their Christmas appeal at https://www.helenanddouglas.org.uk/christmas-appeal/.