11 December 2020

Harry praises ‘inspirational’ former WellChild award winners

11 December 2020

The Duke of Sussex has praised past winners of an award recognising the achievements of children living with serious illnesses, describing them as “unbelievably inspiring”.

Harry made a surprise appearance during a video call with the former WellChild award winners, to give them a morale boost and encourage nominations for the 2021 event.

The duke, who has been patron of WellChild since 2007, told the group: “Your bravery, your strength, your optimism, your everything is just so unbelievably inspiring, incredibly refreshing as well.”

He also told the young people: “There’s never enough time in the day, or days in the week, to recognise every single one of you and recognise all your achievements.”

He went on to say: “But you guys know how many kids, and how many young people your ages, are struggling through life, but coming out on top every single day, and are inspiring their parents.”

Harry chats to former WellChild award winners. WellChild

When Evie Toombes, 19, from Skegness, saw Harry appear on the screen, her mouth fell open in disbelief.

The teenager, who won the Inspirational Young Person award, aged 15 to 18, in 2018, soon recovered her composure and said she was nervous but electric with excitement during the ceremony, where she met Harry and his wife Meghan.

She remembered: “How positive the evening was, and how it was a celebration of everything we can do and I think all of us need to focus on that. I have definitely carried that through and continue to carry it through.”

She said of the award winners: “It gives them the confidence to continue trying, to know that they can do it and to have such a positive experience at the awards.

2018 WellChild Awards (PA Archive)

“It means they can carry on through whatever they are doing, inspire other people, perhaps help other people and continue to lead a really wonderful life.

“I think it’s not just that one night actually, it is the start of continuing to give them the confidence and encouragement for the rest of their lives.”

WellChild supports seriously ill children and young people in the UK to ensure they have the best chance to thrive – properly supported at home with their families.

It provides a national network of children’s nurses to enable youngsters to be cared for at home, and through its Helping Hands scheme enlists volunteers to tackle practical projects in the homes of children with significant health needs.

Catherine Davies, WellChild’s family engagement lead, was on the video call and Harry asked her about how this year has been for the organisation.

She said: “We put together a direct response service to help people access food deliveries, medication supplies, but, most importantly, to access PPE so they could keep the carers coming into their homes to help them with their children’s 24/7 care needs.

“As challenging as that was to be a part of, it was incredibly rewarding to be able to step into this almost front-line role for our parents and give them that direct support that they needed day after day to get them through this crisis and this year.”

Nominations for the WellChild Awards close on December 31 with details available on the charity’s website.

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