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16 Jun 2017 Care

Delight as Duchess of York pays a special visit to Kirkwood

A royal visitor came to Huddersfield on Friday to visit Kirkwood.

Sarah, The Duchess of York, paid a visit to the Hospice as part of the 30th year celebrations.

The charming and chatty Duchess was introduced to members of the Hospice team, including one of our founders David Stocks and his wife Lesley, along with Kirkwood’s first matron, John Murgatroyd and long serving former Chief Executives Hilary Turner and Christine Springthorpe.

The Duchess was then presented with a bouquet by six year old Cara Davies from Lockwood, whose father Jon is currently being supported by the Hospice.

Excited Cara, who attends Netherton Infant & Nursery School, also presented the Duchess with a beautiful flower brooch, knitted by members of Kirkwood’s Batley & Birstall Support Group.

Cara said: “It was really exciting to meet the Duchess. None of my classmates have met a royal and I got to have the day off school especially.”

“I said ‘welcome to Kirkwood ma’am’ and she told me how pretty my dress was.”

Cara’s Mum, Sharon Davies, said: “It was a real treat for Cara and us. We only found out who we would be meeting today and we’ve been talking about it since breakfast.”

After unveiling a special plaque to commemorate her visit, the Duchess was given a tour of the Hospice and was introduced to patients and their families currently receiving care and support from the Hospice team.

Among the patients and families met by the Duchess were Gary and Alice Walker from Upper Cumberworth. Gary, who has been receiving care in Kirkwood’s In-Patient Unit, was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer in September last year.

Kirkwood was a lifeline for the couple, said Alice: “The Hospice stepped in to support us when we were so emotionally drained. They scooped us up and brought us here. There are so many bad things happening in this world and you come here and see how good people are.”

On meeting the Duchess, Gary said: “I’ve got to fight my illness the best I can and be really positive. Talking to the Duchess today has made me think in a different light. She has made me feel a little bit higher.”

Alice added: “The Duchess was amazing. She was very knowledgeable and kind.”

The Duchess was also given a tour of Kirkwood’s grounds by Tim Grace, who was instrumental in creating the award winning gardens following the Hospice’s Capital Appeal in 2012.

She also chatted with supporters, volunteers and patients in the Hospice’s Support & Therapy Centre.

The Duchess of York has strong connections to the local area and is passionate about all things Yorkshire.

On her visit to the Hospice, the Duchess said: “It’s great to be here. I love coming to Huddersfield. I am a Visiting Professor of Philanthrepreneurship at Huddersfield University and we’ve been great supporters of the local area. I wanted to give back to the local area today.

“The word Hospice for me meant, in the old days when it started, a place where you go with a terminal illness. I come here today and it’s not. This is Kirkwood care.

“Yes people come here when they are very ill but it’s about giving people, and their spouses, the chance to have a moment.

“Vera, who was here at the very beginning, 30 years ago, said it’s a place of goodness. This certainly is a place of goodness and kindness.”

Kirkwood Chief Executive, Michael Crowther, who accompanied the Duchess on her tour, said: “We were thrilled to receive a visit from the Duchess of York this afternoon.”

“Kirkwood Hospice exists because of the generosity of local people in Kirklees, who came together over 30 years ago with a dream of offering better outcomes for people with life-limiting illnesses.

“The visit of the Duchess is another special moment in our journey and a wonderful way to highlight the outstanding care we provide across Kirklees. Hospices play a huge part in their local communities, helping to support patients and their families at what is often a very difficult time. We want to use this special year to reach more people who could access our services but currently don’t.”

Kirkwood Hospice has provided care for over 25,000 people over the past 30 years and demand for our services increase year on year. As part of our anniversary celebrations, we are encouraging people to find out more about the range of services we offer locally and to challenge their perceptions of what hospice care is.

Kirkwood would like to thank Aaron Francis and HDTWO Commercial Photography for their continued support and their amazing photographs.

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