Prince Harry threw open the doors of Buckingham Palace on Monday evening to host a reception for parents of seriously ill children. The event was held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of WellChild charity, of which Harry is royal patron. The charity helps young people be cared for at home instead of in hospital, wherever possible, by kitting out their homes and gardens.
Harry met a group of inspirational parents, most of whom have become full-time carers for their children. They have started an online campaign, #NOTANURSE_BUT, where they describe the medical care they provide for their own kids, despite not being nurses. Harry told them: "You've been able to share your experiences. Now you're professionals at this. You've got to try to share these experiences and help other people. I'd imagine it's one hell of a decision to say I want my children at home."
Prince Harry meets Gaby Roslin at the event
Among the mums was Hayley Smallman, 40, from Liverpool, whose daughter Holly has cerebral palsy. After meeting the Prince, Hayley said: "Our normal routine is so far away from this world and to be invited to Buckingham Palace for the day – it's just elevated us completely. All week we have been giddy with excitement." She recalled when Harry met her daughter at the WellChild Awards in 2015. Hayley said: "Before he actually spoke to Holly, he said to me, 'How am I best to communicate with her?' I said, 'It would be best if you held her hand and talked to her so she could feel you,' use her other senses. And he gets down on his knee, and he holds her hand."
Of the #NOTANURSE_BUT campaign, Hayley added: "We are doing it for all the other children who are subsequently going to be born after our children because ultimately, my daughter is life-limited, and I know I won't have her for a very long time. So the time that I have for her, I know that we need to make that time count. And that's what we are doing every day with this campaign."
Harry met parents of seriously ill children at the WellChild reception
Rhian Greenslade, 47, a WellChild nurse who also attended the reception, said: "Prince Harry was very friendly, I've been a WellChild nurse for eight years and he was just saying how beneficial the role is. We talk to parents about the emotional and financial difficulties they face and help prepare them for bringing their children home."