PRINCESS Beatrice got into the Christmas spirit when she visited a children’s hospice with goody bags and cakes for the youngsters.
Beatrice is royal patron of the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, which supports youngsters with life-shortening conditions and their families in West Yorkshire, and she toured its state-of-the-art Russell House unit.
The princess opened the centre in June 2013, the year she took on a formal role with the organisation, and during Monday’s visit spent time reading to the children, singing carols and chatting to parents, staff and supporters.
Before leaving she said: “I am incredibly proud to be patron of Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice and feel privileged to share with you the invaluable work the charity does in supporting children with life-shortening conditions and their families.
“We really need to think of a new word for hospice as this is so much more than that, it is a magical place, it is a family and I’m delighted to be a part of that family.”
She met Gregor Munroe, aged eight, who requires round-the-clock care and is supported by the charity through its hospice at home service. Beatrice was photographed reading to Gregor.
His mother Mary said: “It was a magical experience none of us will ever forget. We really treasure the time we get to spend together as a family and to be able to speak with the princess was great.”
Gregor contracted swine flu at 16 months old, leaving him in a wheelchair, unable to speak and with the potential of having a seizure at any time of day or night.
His mother said: “Despite all Gregor has been through he is still such a happy young boy, always smiling and an inspiration to those around him.
“We treasure all the time we have together and Forget Me Not support us in so many ways, visiting us at home to allow us to also spend quality time with Gregor’s siblings whilst Gregor receives one-to-one attention from the care team who he loves.”
During her tour Beatrice was shown the teenage room, which offers older children a place to call their own, and the parents’ rooms, which give mothers and fathers the chance to spend time together while the children are being cared for.
The main hub area of the hospice was transformed into a magical Alice in Wonderland-themed party where the princess met many families and joined in with a few Christmas carols.
Following her tour, Beatrice was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Milly-May Dyson, aged nine, whose brother Eric died aged just three days old.
Milly-May’s mother Claire Archer and her family have been supported by Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice since Eric’s diagnosis of Edwards syndrome 20 weeks into her pregnancy.
Peter Branson, chief executive of Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, who joined Beatrice on her tour, said: “It has been absolutely fantastic to have Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice here to meet our children and families.
“Princess Beatrice has been a wonderful supporter of our charity for over three years now and it was great to be able to welcome her to Russell House again and share some of our families’ stories.
“Quite simply, we are here to say yes to every family who needs our support, and being able to give them magical experiences like meeting a real princess was fantastic and they have all gone away with memories that will last a lifetime.”
Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice supports more than 250 children and their families, with the vast majority of funds coming from the local community.