Children’s Hospice Week 2022: Duchess of Cambridge's personal message delights Sussex children's hospice Chestnut Tree House

The Duchess of Cambridge has sent a personal message of support from Kensington Palace for Children’s Hospice Week 2022, asking everyone to join her in celebrating the extraordinary work of children's hospices and thanking them for the life-changing care and support they provide.

The team at Chestnut Tree House, the children's hospice for Sussex, was delighted with the Duchess' words of support, released today. Her special message for 2022 was also welcomed at Together for Short Lives, the UK charity for seriously ill children and families, and the organiser of Children’s Hospice Week.

Anna Jones, director of children’s services at Chestnut Tree House, said: “It is a real honour to receive a message of support from Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge, to help raise awareness of the vital work of children’s hospices across the UK. The message shines a light on the vital support that children’s hospices, like Chestnut Tree House, provide to children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions and families all year round.”

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The week, running from June 20 to 26, is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for children’s hospice services across the UK, and the thousands of children and families they support. The theme this year is For The Children, as everything they do is for the children, helping families make the most of their lives together, whether for years, months or only hours.

The Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to The Nook in Norfolk, one of the three East Anglia Children's Hospices (EACH). Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Wire and supplied by Chestnut Tree House

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Andy Fletcher, chief executive at Together for Short Lives, said: “The Duchess of Cambridge, as royal patron for EACH, is a fantastic ambassador for seriously ill children and their families and the children’s hospices that they rely on.

"The Duchess’s support for Children’s Hospice Week over many years has helped to raise awareness, so more families understand the lifeline care hospices provide, and all that they do to bring joy and fun to families’ lives – giving them the chance to be parents, not carers. We join The Duchess in celebrating the lifeline care children’s hospices provide for families facing the unimaginable.

“As The Duchess says, hearing the news that your child will die young is heartbreaking, and families often tell us they feel isolated and alone, and just don’t know where to turn to for support. That’s why children’s hospices are so vital.”

One of the key areas of focus at Chestnut Tree House is the garden, which offers many opportunities for children, from bug hunts to planting and exploring. All the bedrooms look out on to the garden, which is fully accessible for those with complex medical and sensory needs. It is a place where the children, young people and families can go to relax, reflect, have fun and be close to nature in a safe environment.

Gardener Ollie Field said: "Families often tell us how much they enjoy spending time here because of the beautiful grounds. We are privileged to have access to this outdoor space, which provides so much benefit to children.

"We have lots of different areas at the hospice, such as a playground, meadow garden, and Woodland Walk. Each area serves a different purpose, from calm, restful spaces to fun places to learn and explore.

"A big part of my role is making the gardens at Chestnut Tree House as accessible and sensory as possible. All the outdoor spaces are fully accessible to our children and young people and have sensory stimulation at the forefront of the design. This might mean different plants to smell, various surfaces to touch, or water features to listen to.”

The Woodland Walk, created in 2014 with Greenfingers charity, is one of the most popular outdoor areas at Chestnut Tree House, as other woodlands are often inaccessible to wheelchair users.

Ollie said: "The Woodland Walk offers a space to feel like you’re out in the wild, amongst the trees, or camping in the woods and searching for creatures. There are all sorts of things going on, including a squirrel maze, bug hotel and dedicated bug zone. The children love going on bug hunts and exploring nature. It’s also a great space for storytelling, playing or just going for a stroll."