bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice is “a fabulous place” according to Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, after she spent the afternoon touring its facilities.
The Countess - the wife of Prince Edward - chatted with young children and their families who are cared for at the Sheffield hospice, which opened its doors in 2008.
One little girl who caught the Royal eye was four-and-a-half-year-old Lily Skidmore, who has been attending the hospice since she was two.
“She read a book with her which I thought was amazing,” said Lily’s dad James, who describes Bluebell Wood as a ‘Godsend’.
“Lily was more interested in the book though and ended up taking it off her for a closer look!”
The Countess was given a tour of the hospice by chief executive Sarah Champion, learning more about the services Bluebell Wood offers to children and young adults with shortened life expectancy.
“She was so supportive and understanding,” Sarah told The Star.
“The moment I found most touching was when Her Royal Highness spoke to a father whose daughter is currently being given end-of-life care here at the hospice.
“It felt as though she’d been close to that situation before, whether through a relative or a close friend, and she knew just what to say.”
The Countess also praised fundraisers, who are responsible for raising 80 to 90 per cent of the hospice’s £2.5 million annual income.
“Without you this place wouldn’t exist, so thank you very much,” she told them.
“You only have to speak to a couple of the families in here to see what it means to them.
“What a fabulous place this is!”
Hospice volunteer Carol Kent said: “She told us the garden is beautiful and that the atmosphere is lovely.
“It’s been an exciting day for the adults and it’s been lovely for the children to think somebody so important has come to see them.”
Irene Novak, a fundraiser from Dronfield Support Group, said: “She was lovely and very approachable.
“We really appreciated that she made a point of coming over to speak to us and tell us what fantastic work we’re doing.”
After touring the building, the 46-year-old Countess unveiled a plaque in the dining room to mark Bluebell Wood’s official opening.
She was then presented with a copy of Bluebell Wood’s book ‘The Bravehearts of Bluebell Wood’ as a gift for her own children, seven-year-old Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, aged three.
n THE Countess also visited engineering firm Sandvik at Beighton Business Park in Sheffield, and officially opened Matrix @ Dinnington, the latest of four purpose-built business centres created by Rotherham Council and operated by its regeneration arm, Rotherham Investment & Development Office.