Duchess of Cambridge recycles Reiss dress that her mother borrowed for first public address as patron of children's hospices charity
21:05 GMT, 19 March 2012
The Duchess of Cambridge looked calm and confident as she gave her first public address today.
And instead of buying a new outfit for the landmark occasion, Kate chose to recycle a Reiss dress from 2008.
The 30-year-old arrived at The Treehouse children's hospice in Ipswich, Suffolk, wearing the 139 'Trina' from the High Street chain – the same one Carole Middleton borrowed from her to wear to Ascot in 2010.
Scroll down to watch Kate's speech
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives at the Treehouse children's hospice in Ipswich, Suffolk
Kate lent the Reiss dress to her mother in 2010 for horse racing at Ascot…the pair both accessorised with a black belt and court shoes
According to well-placed sources, the
thrifty Kate frequently borrows clothes from her 57-year-old mother when she
needs a special little something.
Kate accessorised the dress with a
thick black belt for a tour of the new 3 million facility, which cares
for seriously and terminally ill children.
The Treehouse is run by East Anglia’s
Children’s Hospices (EACH) and supports children and young people with
life-threatening conditions across Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and
Royal sources said the Duchess was
responsible for writing her own speech and said it was in 'a very
different style' from those of her husband, Prince William
The Duchess is royal patron of the
charity which provides care and support wherever the family wishes – in
their own home, in the community or at one of their three hospices in
Ipswich, Milton and Quidenham.
The range of support includes short
break care, specialist play activities, music therapy, hydrotherapy and
parent groups as well as vital end of life care and bereavement support
for all family members.
her arrival the Duchess was greeted by 600 flag waving supporters and
given a tour of the hospice, meeting children and their families who use
the hospice’s facilities, including a sensory room and music room.
Duchess of Cambridge speaks with Tilly Jennings as she leaves after her visit
her arrival the Duchess was greeted by 600 flag waving supporters and
given a tour of the hospice
Kate three-minute speech was faultless – made with a slow but measured delivery. Aides stressed that she had written it herself so it was very much from the heart. Her cut glass tone was eminently royal.
The Duchess received a resounding round of applause at the end of her address and smiled broadly at her audience.
Kate then attended a reception for staff and supporters of the hospice and confessed to one guest as she touched her heart 'I find doing speeches nerve wracking.'
Kate was also invited to plant a commemorative tree in the Treehouse grounds
She also met staff and supporters and was given a private tour of the bedroom and care areas.
She heard a performance by a 10-year-old singer, Bethany Woods, who gave a spell-binding rendition of a song made famous by The Muppet Movie, Rainbow Connection.
In a hushed music therapy room, which moments earlier had been filled with a cacophony produced by percussion instruments played by children receiving treatment at the hospice, the wheelchair-bound youngster began to sing.
Bethany was diagnosed at the age of 22 months with merosin negative congenital muscular dystrophy, which causes poor muscle tone, tightness in the joints and respiratory problems.
The Duchess of Cambridge meets a young fan, who carried a banner with Kate's pictures and a bouquet of flowers
She receives a wide range of care
from the hospice to alleviate her condition but especially loves taking
part in music and recorded a song for the hospice’s recent fundraising
When the Duchess first entered the music therapy room, she greeted each of the four young musicians and their parents in turn.
On greeting Bethany, Kate said she
had seen her video and asked her 'Did that take a long time', adding
that she liked her performance.
The youngster sang with a quiet voice but with a clear tone and Kate listened intently with her hands folded in her lap.
Britain's Duchess of Cambridge joins in an art class with Marnie Jennings, left, and, Brooke Jennings, right
Kate heard a performance by a 10-year-old singer, Bethany Woods, who was diagnosed at the age of 22 months with merosin negative congenital muscular dystrophy, which causes poor muscle tone, tightness in the joints and respiratory problems
At the end she touched Bethany on the left arm as she congratulated her.
Earlier the duchess had picked up a
single maraccas and played it against her left hand as the children
improvised on their instruments.
Music therapy teacher Ray Travasso played the keyboard as each of the children joined in.
A three-year-old broke the ice with Kate when she walked up her and declared : 'Hello Princess Kate, can you paint with me'
Marnie Jennings had already met the Duchess when she joined a group of siblings taking part in a crafts session at the hospice.
not content with her own chat with the Duchess, a few minutes later
Marnie decided to muscle in on the action when the Duchess was painting a
ceramic butterfly with her elder sister Brooke, 12, and another girl.
The Duchess, greeting dignitaries, is royal patron of the
charity which provides care and support wherever the family wishes
KATE'S SPEECH IN FULL
First of all, I'd like to say thank you. Thank you for not only accepting me as your Patron but thank you also for inviting me here today.
You have all made me feel so welcome and I feel hugely honoured to be here to see this wonderful centre.
I am only sorry that William can't be here today; he would love it here. A view of his – that I share – is that through teamwork, so much can be achieved.
What you have all achieved here is extraordinary.
You as a community have built the Treehouse; a group of people who have made every effort to support and help each other.
When I first visited the Hospice in Milton, I had a pre-conceived idea as to what to expect. Far from being a clinical, depressing place for sick children, it was a home. Most importantly, it was a family home, a happy place of stability, support and care. It was a place of fun.
Today I have seen again that the Treehouse is all about family and fun. For many, this is a home from home – a lifeline, enabling families to live as normally as possible, during a very precious period of time.
What you do is inspirational, it is a shining example of the support and the care that is delivered, not just here, but in the children's hospice movement at large, up and down the country.
The feelings you inspire – feelings of love and of hope – offer a chance to families to live a life they never thought could be possible.
So thank you again for inviting me here today. I feel enormously proud to be part of East Anglia's Children's Hospices and to see the wonderful life-changing work that you do. Thank you.
The girls’ mother Jeanette, 37, said:
“She got out of her chair and went over and said: ‘Hello Princess Kate,
can I paint with you’'
girls’s sister is Tilly Jennings, six, who has been coming to the
hospice since she was three months old [in your press pack].
Jennings said: “Tilly started to get jealous and got up and went over
as well. I think she thought Marnie was stealing her thunder.
thought ‘Oh no, if anyone was going to disgrace me it was my
three-year-old.’ But Kate laughed. It broke the ice – nobody seemed
quite so nervous
then. She was very friendly and approachable.'
Brooke said: 'I was cringeing a bit.
She was going, “Princess Kate, let me do it for you. Look what I’m
doing!” She said, “Oh OK,’ and let Marnie take over.
was going, “Marnie, leave Kate alone.” But then it was, “Oh well.” She
seemed very calm and cool and relaxed. She seemed to take it all in her
stride. She was very nice and really pretty, and seemed really caring.'
Jennings said: 'Meetings a member of the Royal Family has been one of
Tilly’s dreams. She has been so excited. This has meant her dream coming
'She has been carrying around Kate’s picture around with her ever since she knew she was going to meet her.'
the tour, The Duchess was invited to address the assembled guests –
before planting a commemorative tree in the grounds of The Treehouse,
another royal first for her in the UK.
sources said the Duchess was responsible for writing her own speech and
said it was in 'a very different style' from those of her husband,
In a foreword to a brochure produced by the charity for the occasion, Kate wrote:'it is a tremendous privilege to be Royal Patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices, and I feel truly honoured to be involved with this organisation. EACH is a world leader in the way it cares for children with life-threatening conditions and their families, and is at the very forefront of children's palliative care.
'I have been deeply moved by the work of EACH's dedicated staff – and by the environment of support for families. For me, EACH provides services which demand an unerring and passionate level of understanding, knowledge and sensitivity. I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to be Royal Patron and I strongly encourage you to continue to support EACH's invaluable work.'
The Treehouse has revolutionised children's hospice care in the East of England and the 3 million cost of building the centre was raised in just 12 months.
The Duchess became Royal Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices in January 2012.
Chief executive Graham Butland said:'The Duchess's visit will showcase the magnificent facilities we can now offer to life-threatened children and their families.'
VIDEO: Watch the Duchess of Cambridge's speech at the Treehouse children's hospice