Duchess of Cornwall visits Eastbourne hospice

The Duchess of Cornwall visited an Eastbourne hospice yesterday to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 5:26 pm
Updated Friday, 5th November 2021, 5:18 pm

Her Royal Highness was guided through St Wilfrid’s Hospice, in Broadwater Way, by chief executive David Scott-Ralphs where she got to meet a number of staff members, volunteers, and fundraisers yesterday (Thursday, November 4).

Along the way, 10-year-old Holly Fuller presented a posy of flowers to the Duchess. Holly has been helped by the hospice’s Seahorse Project, a bereavement support service for children and young people.

Holly’s mum Debbie Kelly said, “After I lost my dad and my nan, I was struggling with the grief and so were the children. So I contacted the Seahorse Project and they helped to support the children at a time when I was grieving. I had some counselling but noticed the children over time were getting upset too and didn’t know what to do – the Seahorse Project really helped.”

The Duchess of Cornwall visits St Wilfrid's Hospice in Eastbourne for its 40th anniversary. Holly giving the posy to the Duchess. Photo by Justin Lycett. SUS-210411-162542001

Although the children no longer need the support from the project, she said, “We know we can contact them if we need to.”

Now Debbie is fundraising for the project because she wants to ‘give something back’ – she’s just completed the Beachy Head 10K.

In terms of the royal visit she said, “We were very honoured to be invited along and be a part of today. Holly was very honoured to hand over the posy as well.”

Ella Williams works in the counselling side of the hospice.

The Duchess of Cornwall visits St Wilfrid's Hospice in Eastbourne for its 40th anniversary. Holly Fuller with her mum Debbie Kelly. Photo by Justin Lycett. SUS-210411-162530001

She said, “All children need support at some point.

“It was very exciting today, especially after the two years we’ve had. She was so lovely and warm.”

Amelia and Maddie Bartlett were both helped by the counselling service at St Wilfrid’s when their mum was diagnosed with cancer.

The girls said, “As soon as we asked for it we got counselling. They’ve definitely made the situation better for us.”

The Duchess of Cornwall visits St Wilfrid's Hospice in Eastbourne for its 40th anniversary. The Duchess talking to Eirian Levell. Photo by Justin Lycett. SUS-210411-162517001

Speaking after meeting the Duchess the girls said, “It was nice to be recognised today and talk to her about the counselling. She seemed very interested and very positive.”

Eirian Levell, head of community services, was at the hospice in 2014 when the Duchess opened the purpose-built facility following its relocation from the town centre.

Eirian said, “In the last seven years we have progressed immensely. Our services have quadrupled I would say in terms of what we can offer. It’s fantastic to have her back. It was wonderful in 2014 and we’re so pleased to welcome her back for our anniversary.”

It costs £17,000 a day to keep St Wilfrid’s going, 30 per cent of this money comes from the NHS and donations cover the rest.

The Duchess of Cornwall visits St Wilfrid's Hospice in Eastbourne for its 40th anniversary. The Duchess talking to Louise Cullen. Photo by Justin Lycett. SUS-210411-162504001

One of these fundraisers is Louise Cullen. She got involved a few years ago when she joined a fundraising walk. Louise said she met a young girl who was walking for her grandma who was cared for by the St Wilfrid’s.

Louise said when she lost her mum and sister she didn’t have the support that St Wilfrid’s offers people.

She said, “I though the least I can do is help so I started by fundraising in any way I could. I’ll do anything to raise money, I’m cycling to Paris for them soon.

“It’s been beautiful to be involved, I loved it. I felt honoured. She was very police, delightful. I’ve have a beautiful day.”

Maria Jenner is a full-time volunteer at the hospice and spoke with the Duchess.

She used to be a language teacher but started volunteering 15 years ago when her friend needed the hospice. She said from there, she knew it was what she wanted to do.

Maria said, “I love it. It’s a wonderful place full of wonderful people. I am very privileged to be part of this team. It’s amazing to be here for her visit again, I was there in 2014 for her visit too.”

Eastbourne’s MP Caroline Ansell said, “This is a very special occasion to celebrate an incredible milestone - four decades of continuous compassionate care.

“How wonderful to have St Wilfrid’s in our home town and what an incredible service they provide to people in Eastbourne and beyond. They truly do give the most wonderful care to those at the end of their life and I wish them to best for all the years to come and thank them for their tireless work during the pandemic.”

The visit finished with the Duchess planting a tree for the hospice gardens as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy project before being given a bottle of the hospice’s ‘Fortytude’ gin.

Fundraising manager Sarah Marsh was the brains behind the gin. She said she worked with Harley House Distillery, based in Seaford, to create 500 bottles of the special gin to celebrate the 40th year of St Wilfrid’s.

She expects £10,000 will be raised from the gin sales.

Sarah said, “There’s lots of love that’s gone into that. It’s a beautiful gin – perfect.”

When the Duchess was given the bottle she said, “What a very good name. Thank you very much, I shan’t open it on the way home. Absolutely fantastic!”