The Royal sunflower competition: Kate helps plant garden at children's hospice

Kate helping to create the new garden. Credit: ITV News

The Duchess of Cambridge has revealed her children are having a sunflower-growing competition, as she helped create a new garden for a children's hospice in Norfolk.

Kate gave the insight into how her family have been keeping occupied during lockdown as she joined families from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices to plant a garden at The Nook, one of EACH’s purpose-built hospices at Framingham Earl near Norwich.

The Duchess chatting to brother and sister Star and Hudson Credit: ITV News

Using plants bought during a visit last week to Fakenham Garden Centre, near her Norfolk home of Anmer Hall, Kate worked alongside volunteers and families to help create an outdoor space for children and families, using sensory plants such as lavender, bay and rosemary.

Sonny with his family and the Duchess Credit: ITV News
Her visit came at the end of Children's Hospice Week Credit: ITV News.

Marking the end of Children's Hospice Week, Kate taught Star Pope-Saunders, 11, her brothers Hudson, eight, and six-year-old Sonny how to loosen the plants from their pots in order to replant them.

As she planted sunflowers with the children, she revealed that Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are having a sunflower-growing competition, with the youngest sibling currently in the lead.

The sunflower has been adopted as the emblem of hospice care Credit: ITV News

Kate, dressed in a summery floral dress, said: "The children are really enjoying growing their sunflowers, Louis's is winning so George is a little grumpy about that!"

The Duchess spoke to two families during her visit to The Nook Credit: ITV News

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was the Pope-Saunders family's first time at The Nook with their son Sonny, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour shortly after his birthday in February.

The Duchess chatting to the Pope-Saunders family Credit: ITV News

His mother Kelly Pope-Saunders, from Norwich, said: "It was so nice to see her - and in such a lovely dress too - getting stuck in."

Kate earlier told the family: "I'm always so blown away by families like yours, particularly having to go through all of this in lockdown. You show such resilience and bravery. You're such an inspiration to us all.

"More people in the country should meet families like you, there's a huge amount of change for you all to take on and you have coped fantastically."

Sonny was diagnosed with a brain tumour just weeks after his 6th birthday Credit: ITV News

Kate also met Liam and Lisa Page, whose three-month-old son Connor was born with severe brain damage on March 5.

They came to EACH from Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge to release beds at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Liam and Lisa Page also had a chat to the Duchess Credit: ITV News

The Duchess said: "Going through lockdown at the same time, when you can't see your loved ones, you can't share with people - there aren't other families necessarily here that you can share your experience with."

The Page family brought their son to The Nook at the start of the coronavirus lockdown Credit: ITV News
A flower for Fraser Credit: EACH

The Duchess also re-potted a large sunflower that she donated to EACH in memory of nine-year-old Fraser Delf, who died in January this year at their Milton hospice in Cambridge.

Kate and the Duchess of Cornwall recently spoke to Fraser's family on a video call.

Stuie Delf, Fraser's brother, took on a running challenge during lockdown to raise money for the charity.

Fraser Delf (right) passed away at an EACH hospice earlier this year Credit: The Delf family

The Duchess has been Royal Patron of EACH since 2012 and attended the official opening of The Nook in November last year.

Last week she joined The Duchess of Cornwall in a call with their children’s hospice patronages to mark the start of Children’s Hospice Week 2020.

Kate has been patron of EACH for 8 years Credit: ITV News

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk and supports their families.

Throughout the pandemic the charity has continued to deliver end of life and emergency crisis care as well as bereavement support.