Luton welcomes a visit from the royals
It was a day to remember today as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made an official visit to Luton.
With temperatures of 31 degrees there was nothing to put a damper on the glorious day - which saw the pair visit Bute Mills, Keech Hospice and Hayward Tyler.
Over 300 volunteers welcomed the Duke and Duchess to Keech to celebrate the hospice’s 25th anniversary.
The royal couple were invited to unveil the special plaque and were taken on a tour of the children’s and adult’s hospices.
Their tour began in the children’s hospice and they were both presented with a personalised memory jar to remind them of their time spent at Keech.
The memory jars are used by the charity before and after a person has died, it is used as a tool in pre and post bereavement support to help adult and children patients and family members.
The jar was presented to the royal couple by brothers Jamie, ten, and Ethan, six, Coniam, of Flitwick, their brother Kieran, ten, died at Keech in October 2014 after battling many health problems.
The Duke and Duchess spent time talking to patients in both hospices who were excited by their visit.
Sam Durant, art therapist at Keech Hospice Care, said: “They took the time to speak to the patients which is really important because they are the voice of Keech, it was great of them to do that.
“They actually spoke with the children as well which was lovely.”
They then cut the ribbon in a special celebration and unveiled the special plaque to celebrate the Hospice’s 25th anniversary.
As the couple left Keech they were greeted by cheers from the crowds that gathered outside the entrance and were presented with a posy, which was designed and made by Amy Richardson, 27, of Dunstable.
Seven-year-old Evie Farmer, of Stevenage, presented the posy to the Duchess, who is East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices Royal Patron.
Evie attends Sparklers at Keech, a monthly support group for siblings, her nine-year-old brother, Charlie, has infantile spasms, epilepsy and mitochondrial disorder and requires 24/7 care.
Evie was joined at the presentation by Ron Willet, 83, of Luton, a volunteer for the Hospice.
Ron is the charity’s head gardener and has volunteered with the charity for 16 years.
He became a volunteer following the death of his wife at the hospice in July 2000. He said: “It is a fantastic honour for the hospice to have the Duke and Duchess here to celebrate 25 years. I love volunteering here, I really enjoy it.”
Leader of Luton Borough Council, councillor Hazel Simmons, said: “It is very exciting that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting Bute Mills, Keech Hospice Care and Hayward Tyler to learn about some of the fabulous work going in Luton to support young people.
“It is a famous day for Luton.”
The CEO of Keech Hospice Care, Liz Searle, said: “It has been absolutely fantastic to have the Duke and Duchess here for our 25th anniversary.
“What was wonderful is they seemed so interested in what we do here, Catherine loved our memory jars and was very fascinated with that, and they took the time to talk to patients.”
At Keech, trustee Sukhdeep Saini, met the royal couple, said: “They were very charming and both looked amazing. William was brilliant going around talking to as many people as he could there.”