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Rio Ferdinand and wife Kate Ferdinand share some big news with their fans

The couple spoke of their pride on social media

Gemma Strong

Rio and Kate Ferdinand have shared their delight after being named patrons of Child Bereavement UK. Kate took to Instagram to share a photo showing the couple posing with some of the children linked to the charity, writing: "Rio and I are honoured to have become patrons of @childbereavementuk. As you saw in Becoming A Stepfamily, the charity helped us and our family so very much and we’ve gained so much as a family working with them. We now hope to be able to continue to raise awareness of the charity's phenomenal work supporting bereaved children and their families." Her husband shared a similar response on his social media, tweeting: "Kate and I are honoured to become patrons of @childbereavementuk. As u saw in Becoming A Stepfamily, the charity helped us so much working with them. We hope to be able to continue to raise awareness of the charity's phenomenal work supporting bereaved children & their families."

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Watch: Rio and Kate Ferdinand's love story

Rio, 41, first came into contact with Child Bereavement UK in 2016 when filming his first BAFTA-winning BBC documentary, Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad. He met with bereaved youngsters supported by the charity, who gave Rio tips on how to talk to his own three children following the death of their mum, Rebecca, in 2015. At the time Rio talked about how the tools and techniques he had learned from the charity had turned things "from dark to light" in helping him and his children open up about their feelings and begin to process their grief as a family.

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Watch: Rio Ferdinand talks about losing wife Rebecca for royal Heads Together campaign

Kate, 28, and Rio's joint involvement with Child Bereavement UK came when the couple filmed BBC1's follow-up documentary: Rio And Kate: Becoming A Stepfamily, which aired on 10 February. The programme explored the challenges as Kate integrated into the family and became a stepmum to Lorenz, 13, Tate, 11, and eight-year-old Tia.

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The couple joined a discussion group at Child Bereavement UK's Buckinghamshire bereavement service, where some of the children and young people supported by the charity gave Rio and Kate advice based on what helped them. Rio’s three children then took part in a group session for bereaved young people at the charity’s East London service, and later said they wanted to return to Child Bereavement UK, with Kate describing it as "a way to make them feel lighter" and Rio saying, "It was too good not to take them back."

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Kate is now a step-mum to Rio's three children

Child Bereavement UK's Chief Executive, Ann Chalmers, said: "It has been a privilege to welcome Rio and Kate to Child Bereavement UK. They have both been so open to share with, and learn from, bereaved young people and families we support. We are very grateful that Rio and Kate have become Patrons of Child Bereavement UK and for their continuing commitment to shine a spotlight on the issues that many widowed parents we support face around the complexity of parenting their bereaved children and stepchildren."

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Kate and Rio join a number of other well-known patrons of the charity including Nick Knowles, Claudia Winkleman, Marina and Ben Fogle, Alan Titchmarsh, Gary Barlow, Jason Watkins, Joey Essex, and Mary Berry. HRH The Duke of Cambridge became Child Bereavement UK’s Royal Patron in 2009.