Kate meets fellow mums at children's centre just weeks before her due date

The Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton, carried out an engagement close to her heart on Wednesday morning. The pregnant royal, who will shortly start her maternity leave, paid an emotional visit to a children's centre in Woolwich, London where she met fellow mums.

Not allowing the late stages of her pregnancy stop her from putting her feet up, Kate, who is expecting her second baby with Prince William in April, was making the visit to learn more about Home-Start and how the charity supports youngsters and their families.

Kate chatted to three-month-old girl Francesca


Arriving at the Brookhill Children's Centre, Prince George's mum showed her down-to-earth side, wearing a £35 polka dot maternity dress by ASOS. The pretty brunette added an extra layer with a long black blazer that had been made by her private dressmaker.

Kate, who is eight months pregnant, was greeted by the charity's chief executive Rob Parkinson and the centre's manager Dawn Brown. The pair told their guest of honour about the work the charity does to improve confidence and build better lives for children.

The Duchess received several presents during her visit

The Duchess kicked off her visit by attending a coffee morning, where she was able to hear firsthand how Home-Start supports local families. Kate looked particularly charmed by one little girl, three-month-old baby Francesca, who was dressed adorably in a pink tutu.

Kate then observed a volunteer training session, in which volunteers are taught how best to offer practical and emotional support in a family's home to help children make the most of nursery or school.

Pregnant Kate wore a £35 dress from ASOS

With over 16,000 volunteers, Home-Start helps over 32,000 families in the UK. These families are usually struggling to cope with a variety of situations including isolation, mental ill health, bereavement, multiple births, illness or disability.

Kate, 33, was clearly moved by the visit. She was seen talking in depth to families about their difficulties and at the start of the tour she had had private meetings with two families who use the charity's services.

The Duchess, who is already patron to other children's charities, wrapped up her visit at the Together for Twos' crèche where she met more families and staff and crouched down to talk to the youngsters.

Kate ended the visit, saying it had been "absolutely wonderful"

"It's been absolutely wonderful," said Kate, coming to the end of her visit. A small boy presented the royal with a bouquet of flowers and a gift basket for her son Prince George before she left. Inside the basket were items the charity regularly gives to children to help them get ready for school.

While the organisation has facilities across the UK, the Brookhill Children's Centre in Greenwich which has been running since 1993 is representative of those around the country. This particular centre works with around 1,000 families from the immediate area, of which 80 per cent of the families have children aged under five.

Ahead of Kate's visit, chief executive Rob said: "We are delighted that The Duchess wants to hear about the challenges that parents of other young children can face and learn how Home-Start is helping them. Without support, the pressures caused by isolation, mental ill health, multiple births, bereavement, disability, poor housing or financial stress can have a devastating effect on families."

Kate's visit on Wednesday will no doubt have struck a chord with the royal. The Duchess is already patron to children's charities including Place2Be, The Art Room and East Anglia's Children's Hospices, and will welcome another little Prince or Princess next month.