Updated: Sep 6, 2019
The WellChild Awards, are one of the annual highlights of Prince Harry’s public calendar. The charity honours gravely sick children & their carers. Tuesday 4 September 2018 at Royal Lancaster Hotel, London.
Over 100,000 children & young people are living with serious illness or exceptional health needs across the UK. Many spend months, even years in hospital because there is no support enabling them to leave. The Charities vision is for every child & young person living with serious health needs to have the best chance to thrive - properly supported at home with their families.
During his speech in the hotel ballroom, the Duke paid tribute to the children, carers & nurses telling them: 'Every one of you is truly amazing.' & 'without doubt incredibly moving & motivating', he hailed the young people who have been 'dealt the toughest cards imaginable' and are a 'constant reminder that we must look to the positive & never give up'.
He also paid a special tribute to Scarlett, a 10-year-old girl who helps with the care of her sister Freya. His Royal Highness said: 'Scarlett, who has been sitting next to me while we have been watching these remarkably inspirational stories this evening, is an absolutely perfect example of exactly that why training for families is so incredibly important.
'At 10 years old, she plays a key role in caring for her sister Freya – & I know that there have been occasions when she has taken the lead in managing Freya’s feeding & oxygen when helping her Grandmother on the very rare occasions when her parents have taken a few much-needed hours for themselves.'
Looking towards his wife, watching him from her seat around a table, he said he was 'especially grateful to be able to share the scope & magnitude of this work with my wife who joins me here this evening'.
Prince Harry's speech in full;
"Once again this year, it is an absolute privilege to be in the company of such inspiring families & nurses – especially the children & young people that we’re all here to honour.
First, let me congratulate all of those nominated tonight. Every one of you is truly amazing. You have shown all of us what it means to be a champion – whether for yourself, your family, your community, or someone in need.
The stories that we’ve all just heard – of resilience, strength of spirit, & the power of working together – were without doubt, incredibly moving & motivating. They really sum up what WellChild is all about – giving families the best chance to care for their children at home, & supporting them through the reality of all that that entails.
I would like to thank all the families here this evening. The mothers, fathers, brothers & sisters, & many other family members who are devoted to their children & are giving them the best care possible. You are such fierce advocates for your children & in doing everything in your power to give your family the best chance at a happy life. It is quite simply amazing.
I would also like to pay tribute to the devoted nurses & volunteers across the UK who help give children & young people living with serious illness or exceptional health needs – a chance to be cared for at home instead of hospital.
And I want to acknowledge the young people who have been dealt the toughest cards imaginable – but who persevere, rise above, & set the example of living life to the fullest. In fact you are often the ones who lift us up – your 'can-do' attitude & unwavering spirit serves as a constant reminder that we must always look to the positive & never give up."
For the past 40 years, WellChild has been identifying issues & finding long-lasting solutions so that families can care for & support their children at home in the very best possible way. I have been a patron of the organization for 11 years now, & this year I am especially grateful to be able to share the scope & magnitude of this work with my wife, who joins me here this evening.
The tremendous work of WellChild is ever evolving, & earlier this year WellChild published their new strategy to address priorities to keep up with the needs of young patients & their families. From developing new national standards, & establishing new training centres, to developing new digital tools – WellChild is paving the way for the best in care for children & their families.
Scarlett, who has been sitting next to me while we have been watching these remarkably inspirational stories this evening, is an absolutely perfect example of exactly that why training for families is so incredibly important.
At 10 years old, she plays a key role in caring for her sister Freya – & I know that there have been occasions when she has taken the lead in managing Freya’s feeding & oxygen when helping her Grandmother on the very rare occasions when her parents have taken a few much-needed hours for themselves.
Caring for children with serious health needs is demanding, I don't need to tell the people in this room that. It's exhausting & difficult. Lack of training is a huge barrier to leaving hospital for many families who spend months & months wanting to go home. In most areas of the UK, only very brief training is available & doesn’t always include potentially life-saving crisis interventions. That means that a large group of isolated, partially or un-trained parents & families are having to provide 24-hour, often invasive, care to their children – they deserve our support. And that’s where WellChild comes in.
We are about to transform training for these parents, & have already started creating new training centres designed to make parents more confident & competent in the critical care of their children. We are exploring the development of new digital tools to better empower families in the care of their children at home & we are developing new national standards for the training of parents, carers & families.
Not only will this work help solve the practical concerns, it will also address many of the emotionally challenging issues that come with a life spent fighting for your child without the opportunities for respite & relaxation that most of us take for granted.
We have seen for ourselves tonight how strong & resilient these young people & families are. Your stories are nothing but inspirational and every year at the WellChild Awards I am astonished by the people I meet.
But the determination & incredible spirit of young people like Scarlett and the others here with us tonight shouldn’t distract us from the fact that we have a growing population of families across the UK who need our help more than ever.
I urge you to please continue to support the work of WellChild in whatever way you can.
And finally, congratulations to all of our winners & nominees – I can’t think of a group of people who deserve our recognition more.
You are true inspirations. Thank you!
Earlier in the evening Prince Harry made a 'pinky promise' to an inspirational girl as she handed Meghan a posy of white roses. The Duchess of Sussex pulled out a white rose from a posy given to her by a seriously-ill little girl & told her keep it in her ‘memory box’.
Matilda Booth, seven, who suffers from spina bifida & is paralysed from the chest downwards, was also asked by Prince Harry to ‘pinky promise’ him that she would ‘never stop smiling’. ‘Never hide that brilliant smile away,’ he said. The youngster, from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, met the Royal couple at the WellChild Awards at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, which celebrates the unbelievable bravery of the nation’s most seriously ill children & the carers who selflessly look after them. Matilda spent her early years in hospital & has had more than 40 operations, including brain surgery seven times. Despite this, the beautiful little girl has a huge zest for life & impresses all she meets with her courage, strength & determination, never complaining or feeling sorry for herself. She even says she wants to be a nurse when she grows up.
Other inspirational children the Royal couple met include McKenzie Brackley, who was the joint winner of the Inspirational Child (four-six years) Award with Matilda.
At the event, Prince Harry revealed he loves the Lion King, whereas Meghan has 'always loved the Little Mermaid'. Meghan also recommended the 2016 Dreamworks film Ballerina & added: 'Harry likes it because she [the main character] has got red hair.'
The WellChild Awards celebrate the inspiring qualities of some of the country’s most seriously ill young people & the dedication of those who go the extra mile to keep children healthy & happy, including the outstanding health, social care & education professionals.
Ruby Joslin-Smith, aged seven, stole the show after delightedly grabbing the Duke’s tie to play with as he talked. Harry, now the Duke of Sussex, became Patron of WellChild in 2007 and has described the youngsters he meets as ‘amazingly brave’.
WellChild Patron Prince Harry introduces a documentary celebrating 10 years of the WellChild Nurse programme. Published on May 24, 2016
The Duke of Sussex continually plays an active interest in the work of WellChild & has met with many of the children & young people, nurses, researchers & volunteers who have been involved with the charity. The Duke of Sussex has attended the WellChild Awards where he has spent time with each of our Award winners listening to their stories & giving them some fantastic memories. He has visited the home of a long term sick child who received care from a WellChild Nurse to see the impact her work had made & has publically spoken of his support in Wellchild's mission to ensuring that all children & young people have the best quality care.
To find out more about Wellchild visit their website: https://www.wellchild.org.uk