The Duchess of Cambridge told parents at a children’s hospice on Friday she could not imagine going through what they had endured.
The Duchess officially opened The Nook on Friday, five years after officially launching a £10million fundraising appeal for the hospice.
She spent the afternoon meeting some of the families who benefit from the many services it offers, including those with very sick children and others whose children have died, asking about the care they receive.
The Duchess was reunited with Leigh Smith, 38, who moved her to tears when they met in 2014, just months after Ms Smith had lost her three-month-old daughter Beatrice to a rare heart condition.
Ms Smith said after their private meeting: “She told me, ‘I don’t know how you did that, how you got through it.
“It was really lovely to see her again and she gave me a big hug.
“She asked me if I felt that what we had gone through was still a difficult subject to discuss, in the wider community and I told her that yes, death is still a big taboo, especially children’s death.
“But I told her how important her role has been in breaking down that taboo, and mental health generally, normalising it and making it easier to talk about such things.
“She batted it off of course. She’s very down to earth and lovely."
The Duchess had a brief tour of The Nook before meeting some of the families in the communal space that is used for children to play and integrate and parents to chat.
She told Betsy Fletcher, seven, whose brother Toby, 10, has dystonic cerebral palsy and other complex medical needs: “I love your plaits. My daughter Charlotte loves plaits too but her hair is only this long so we have to do them up at the side.”
The Duchess also met Julie and Kevin Pitcher, whose six-year-old son Benny was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in February.
Mr Pitcher, 44, from East Runton, said: “We told her how our lives had been turned upside down but you battle through.
“She said that as a parent, she could not imagine having to go through that.”
The Duchess was told what a difference the new facilities had made to so many lives.
Set on a five-acre woodland site, the hospice is spread across a single floor and boasts a hydrotherapy pool, state of the art sensory room and music studio.
It replaces a facility at the Carmelite Monastery at Quidenham, which the Duchess visited in 2017, but which the charity had outgrown.
The Duchess bent down to speak to Isabella Alford, 10, who was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, a rare neurological condition, in 2011 at the age of two.
Isabella’s mother, Deborah Alford, told the Duchess that as her daughter’s condition had worsened recently, the facilities at The Nook were invaluable, and the community areas allowed her to interact with others from her bed.
Mrs Alford said: “She immediately put us at ease. She asked if Isabella could hear and see so we explained that she could only see straight ahead so she crouched down and told her how much she loved her hair. She was really kind."
In a speech before officially opening The Nook, the Duchess laughed as she revealed that she would never forget her first ever speech at the Treehouse Hospice.
"At the opening of the Treehouse Hospice many years ago - which I think I will remember for some years to come as it was my first ever speech - I referred to your hospices as being homes.
"This visit today has only reinforced for me just what is at the heart of what you do here, throughout your work, and that is family.
"You have created here at The Nook a nurturing, caring environment that allows families who are going through the unimaginable the ability to spend precious quality time with each other, comforted in the knowledge that their children are being looked after in the best possible way.”