England

Duchess of Cambridge's lasting impact at children's hospice

  • 22 July 2012
  • From the section England
Media captionThe Duchess of Cambridge has been the charity's patron for four months

Staff at a hospice in Suffolk where the Duchess of Cambridge made her first public speech have said her visit created a lasting feel-good factor.

East Anglia's Children's Hospices welcomed the duchess, its new patron, to Ipswich on 19 March.

The eagerly-anticipated visit had been months in the planning and was a huge coup for the charity, which cares for life-limited children and their families in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

It was among just four UK charities to receive the duchess's royal patronage.

Organisers soon learned her visit would take on an even greater significance as the first time the world would hear the duchess speak at length.

The speech was covered by the media around the world, including being streamed live by major international news networks.

"That is pretty special," said Simon Hempsall, its marketing manager.

Image caption The Duchess of Cambridge was pictured wearing the EACH bracelet

"That image of her will be used throughout the world for many years to come, certainly in the next decade.

"And there she is, with our logo behind her and she is wearing the bracelet."

'Royal memorabilia'

The £10 bracelet, made up of orange and purple Smarties-like beads, was given to the Duchess on her arrival.

Made for EACH by Imogen Sheeran, mother of singer Ed Sheeran, who comes from Suffolk, it had already been sold at its shops and on its website - but suddenly it had become a fashion must-have for royal watchers.

"We'd thought her wearing the bracelet would help us sell a few," said Mr Hempsall.

"We sold 1,000 in the first two months.

"We've just placed an order for a further 1,000 to be be handmade and we've just about re-stocked our shops with this 'Royal memorabilia'."

The bracelet had appeared on US-based website What Kate Wore , which documents the Duchess's fashion, and which may have generated some of the £20,000 in bracelet sales.

The charity said it was difficult to gauge any rise in donations as a result of the duchess's patronage and visit, and it was still completely reliant on public support.

But where that interest is coming from has changed.

Filming by news crews from Canada, Australia and the US created "unprecedented global awareness" of a children's hospice which began in rural Norfolk.

"People Magazine came to speak to us from the US and we've had the Chicago Times run an article," said Mr Hempsall.

"We had requests from lots of different countries. Nothing like this had ever happened before.

"Many of our past supporters who are now living in Australia, Saudi Arabia and different parts of Europe all saw the story.

"A member of staff on holiday saw the footage of the Duchess at Treehouse Hospice on the televisions at Singapore airports."

Help more families

Image caption Publicity sparked by the visit has helped families realise what the hospice can do for them

Since then, EACH has had newsletter requests from Europe and Asia and new supporters fund-raising in the US.

Followers of US fashion website A Petite Princess recently raised £132 for an appeal for a new playground at EACH's hospice in Milton, near Cambridge, which has now reached its £80,000 target.

Mr Hempsall said one of the more subtle changes was one of the most important.

"Families who could use our services but were perhaps put off by the word 'hospice' are actually getting involved now, and I'm sure we'll be able to serve many more families in the future," he said.

"After her visit in March, everyone was visibly absolutely delighted and it's carrying on now, everyone is still talking about it.

"It really hasn't stopped since we got the first telephone call from St James's Palace in October last year, asking if we could give a bit more information about what we do.

"Since then it's been unabated happiness."

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