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Duchess Kate delivers moving speech about kindness during school visit

Emily Nash and Ainhoa Barcelona

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined primary school pupils to mark the start of Children's Mental Health Week on Monday morning for their campaign, Heads Together. Kate, who is patron of charity Place2Be, which organised the "Big Assembly", was accompanied by William for the visit to Mitchell Brook Primary School in north west London. She opted for a bright red suit by Luisa Spagnoli for the outing in bright sunshine and was handed a post of flowers as the couple arrived to cheers from flag-waving pupils and music from a steel band.

The royal couple met staff and pupils and were introduced on stage in the school hall by headteacher Theresa Landreth. It was then Kate's turn to take to the lectern, after Ms Landreth said: "We know that she has the K Factor and we know she supports children throughout the world with the charities she works with."

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Kate, 35, addressed the teachers and children as she gave a speech about mental health. "People often ask me why I am so interested in the mental health of children and young people," she said. "The answer is quite simple – it is because I think that every child should have the best possible start in life. When I was growing up I was very lucky. My family was the most important thing to me. They provided me with somewhere safe to grow and learn, and I know I was fortunate not to have been confronted by serious adversity at a young age."

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Prince William and Kate kicked off Children's Mental Health Week on Monday

Prince George and Princess Charlotte's mum added: "For some children, maybe there are some here today, I know that life can sometimes feel difficult and full of challenges. I think that every child should have people around them to show them love, and to show them kindness, and nurture them as they grow. This is what Place2Be is doing so amazingly here in your school."

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The Duchess encouraged the youngsters to express their feelings, and ask an adult for help when needed. "If we are worried, upset, lonely or angry – the best thing to do is to talk to someone about it," said Kate. "Whether that is your mother or father, a teacher or a friend. I know that in your school you have been working on a project to spread a little kindness and I think this is such an important thing to do. If you see someone who you think might need help, try and be kind to them. Keep a look out for them if they are on their own or seem sad or worried. Perhaps they just need a hug or someone to talk to. I know it is hard if you are feeling down yourself. But helping someone out will also make you feel so much better too."

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The Duchess gave a speech about kindness

She concluded by mentioning her own children, three-year-old George and one-year-old Charlotte. Kate said: "My parents taught me about the importance of qualities like kindness, respect, and honesty, and I realise how central, values like these have been to me throughout my life. That is why William and I want to teach our little children, George and Charlotte just how important these things are as they grow up. In my view it is just as important as excelling at maths or sport."

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Kate then had the honour of presenting the first "Kindness Cup" to the child who "has shown exceptional kindness in their school community and beyond". This year's recipient was Nadia Dhicis, a ten-year-old pupil who joined William and Kate on stage in the school hall as she received her gold trophy. Nadia was recognised for her efforts in looking after fellow pupils and her younger brother and sister, plus her volunteering at a local food bank. She gave a speech onstage and speaking afterwards, said: "I'm very proud of myself. I didn't know I could win this, but I'm striving to achieve more. The school is like a second home, the teachers are so friendly, they are very concerned if something happens at home or outside, you can tell them."

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The Duchess looked radiant in a red Luisa Spagnoli suit

During the visit, pupils acted out role plays on the subject of kindness and also performed Bruno Mars' hit track Count On Me. Children's Mental Health Week 2017 focuses on kindness and its benefits for wellbeing. Place2Be is encouraging youngsters to "spread a little kindness" in school and at home throughout Children's Mental Health Week, for example by helping classmates who may be having a difficult time, or asking an adult for help. William and Kate listened as a group of children discussed how kindness can help them through tough moments.

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Fiona Pienaar, director of clinical services at Place2Be, later said of Kate's involvement: "It's a big impact, we're really grateful to her as a Patron and she makes a huge difference. She's knowledgeable and she's passionate about the subject and the Duke obviously is as well. Having set up Heads Together, they're really committed, and I don't think it's just for a year or so. I think it's clearly what they feel very strongly about. So for us as a charity, she's an outstanding spokesperson. I think they are making a big difference, not just to children's mental health, but across the board. It's fantastic that she brings in her own experience of being a child and brings in the importance that she and the Duke feel about bringing up their own children, understanding their mental health and being kind."

Place2Be is one of eight charities behind the Heads Together campaign led by the Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry. It aims to change the national conversation on mental health and is the official charity for this year's London Marathon. Later on Monday evening, William and Kate will attend a Guild of Health Writers conference focusing on mental health, which is backed by Heads Together.