Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie were visibly moved as they heard from a grandmother who has kept the memory of her grandson alive by fundraising for the Teenage Cancer Trust. The royal sisters joined a Zoom call to honour the winners of the inaugural Teenage Cancer Trust 2020 Awards on 30 June.
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WATCH: Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie moved by fundraising grandmother
The pair listened as Enid Waterfall, 85, from Wrexham spoke about how she had been fundraising tirelessly for the charity, carrying on the work of her grandson Richard, who died in 2018 after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that affects the bones or the tissues around them. She and husband Norman, 89, have raised more than £28,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
An emotional Eugenie, 30, asked the award-winning grandmother about creating a "legacy" for her grandson: "First of all, to hear about your grandson Richard - what an amazing thing to do, in honour of his memory. I think it almost chokes me up a bit because it must be so difficult to do that."
Mrs Waterfall said: "Strangely enough you feel closer to Richard when you're doing it. And the reaction from people - it's not me, it's the people who give, it's the people who work with me, it's everyone who approaches you and keeps giving money - time after time after time."
She apologised as she smiled and wiped away a tear, while Beatrice could also be seen dabbing at her eyes as she said: "Thank you for all your incredible work... for you and also for Richard's legacy - thank you for everything."
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Beatrice and Eugenie were moved by fundraiser Enid Waterfall's story
Also on the call was nurse consultant Nicky Pettitt, who was recognised with an award for redeploying from supporting young people with cancer to a coronavirus ward. Princess Eugenie spoke to Nicky about her own personal experience with the NHS, as her father-in-law George Brooksbank was admitted to hospital with coronavirus in March.
George was on a ventilator for five weeks at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London. After a tracheotomy, his condition gradually improved and he was moved to a ward at the Royal Brompton Hospital which specialised in heart and lung conditions in people recovering from COVID-19. Eugenie shared the news that her husband Jack Brooksbank's father was finally home from hospital last month, as she thanked medical staff in an emotional Instagram post.
Eugenie said to Nicky: "My husband's father was in hospital and every time we spoke to someone, who had to tell us the news, they had to ring every patient's family that day. That must've been such an awful thing to have to do."
Nicky, who supports young people at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, replied: "I think as a cancer nurse you are used to having difficult and complex conversations, so the skillset is there and that becomes very transferable. It was very humbling experience really. We didn’t realise the impact we would have both for the patient's family at home and for being that lifeline."
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The moment Beatrice and Eugenie announced that the group were winners
She added: "I think everyone needs a medal in the NHS. Working in hospital with sick people is one thing and I think we manage that well, but then you can go home and that can be a safe space. But coronavirus has invaded every corner of everybody’s life and so there is a balance that is quite hard to achieve. I am so proud of the west midlands team that has manged to do that and keep the young people at the heart of everything."
Other winners included on the call were Crystal Marshall, 21, who was diagnosed at 18 with a rare form of bone cancer, Alex Charlton, 24, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, Julie Gonzalez, youth support coordinator at Birmingham Children's Hospital and fundraisers, Mike and Pascale O'Leary from Hastings, and Rod Smallwood and Alexander Milas of the Truants and Heavy Metal Truants.
Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are honorary patrons of the Teenage Cancer Trust and previously joined a call to highlight the huge challenges faced by young people with cancer. Eugenie said: "It has been a real honour for Beatrice and I to present these awards to such dedicated, kind and inspiring individuals. Hearing what it has been like working on the frontline, the personal stories that drive fundraising and how inspirational young people have campaigned in the face of adversity - and all during a global pandemic - will stay with us forever."
For more information about Teenage Cancer Trust visit teenagecancertrust.org.
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