Duchess Camilla meets brave mum at Waddesdon reception

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Bereaved mum and nurse at Helen & Douglas House hospice, Rachel Griffith of Waddesdon met The Duchess of Cornwall at a special charity concert given by the London Chamber Orchestra at Cadogan Hall.

The concert was attended by 750 people and raised £14,000 for East Oxford children’s hospice, Helen & Douglas House, the world’s first children’s hospice, and Momiji House, Japan’s first children’s hospice. The Duchess of Cornwall has been Patron of Helen & Douglas House since 2007.

Rachel gave a moving talk at the concert about her work as a nurse at the hospice and her two children who died there. She met The Duchess of Cornwall at the interval.

Rachel said: “Helping families is very powerful for me, as a result of my own experience. I am mother to four beautiful children, but my eldest two girls suffered from a neurological degenerative incurable disease called Batten Disease. My girls were cared for at Helen & Douglas House for around three years but sadly died, aged five and aged seven. This broke my heart and changed my life forever.

“Working with dying children and their families can be incredibly tough – but there are moments that make it all worthwhile. Much of what I deal with on a day-to-day basis... revolves around supporting people who are dealing with loss – from the loss of good health and independence, mobility, the ability to talk, and eat, sometimes to smile, to eventually the loss of their life. But hospice work is not just about suffering. We can also enable children and families to simply spend time having fun.”

with each other and wonderful opportunities for patients and families to develop powerful relationships with others.

‘I have always been a nurse by profession, but the care we experienced as a family inspired me to apply for a job as a staff nurse at the hospice. I worked at Helen and Douglas House for over 13 years. It has been an immense privilege spending time with my patients and their families. To be able to share in a few of their moments of independence, and enjoyment, and yet also to stand alongside them in their darkest, heart breaking days.

‘I wish that no parent had to see the death of their child at any age, witnessing their loss and distress is extremely difficult. But for me, supporting patients and families to achieve their lifetime wishes in the time that they have available to them, (just as I was supported when I needed it), makes every penny that you will donate priceless and every moment of this job for me worthwhile.

If you could like to make a £10 donation text 70500 to LCO, donate online at www.hdh.org.uk or call 01865 799150.