The Duke of Sussex surprises inspirational children on video call to encourage nominations for WellChild Awards 2021

By Chris Hill · December 11, 2020

The Duke of Sussex with previous WellChild Award Winners on Zoom

WellChild Patron, The Duke of Sussex made a surprise appearance in a video call with previous winners of the WellChild Awards on Friday December 4th to share their stories and encourage people to nominate for the Awards in 2021.

Nominations are currently open for the 2021 WellChild Awards, in association with GSK. This prestigious annual event celebrates the inspirational qualities of the UK’s seriously ill children and young people and the dedication of those who go that extra mile to make a real difference to their lives.

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Taking part in the call with The Duke were Maddison Sherwood, aged 12, from Loughborough, who won the Inspirational Child award, aged three to six in 2014, Katie Ward, aged 13 from Colchester, who won the Inspirational Child award, aged seven to 10 in 2017, Evie Toombes, aged 19 from Skegness, who won the Inspirational Young Person award, aged 15 to 18 in 2018 and Armaan (Marni) Ahmed, aged 11, from Leeds, who won the Inspirational Child award, aged seven to 10 in 2017.

The Duke, who has been Patron of WellChild since 2007, asked the young people to tell him what they remembered about the evening and receiving their award.

Evie Toombes said she was nervous but electric with excitement. She said she remembers: “How positive the evening was and how it was a celebration of everything we can do and I think all of us need to focus on that. I have definitely carried that through and continue to carry it through.”

Evie said of the award winners: “It gives them the confidence to continue trying, to know that they can do it and to have such a positive experience at the awards. It means they can carry on through whatever they are doing, inspire other people, perhaps help other people and continue to lead a really wonderful life. I think it’s not just that one night actually, it is the start of continuing to give them the confidence and encouragement for the rest of their lives.”

Katie Ward told the Duke about her experience at the awards: “I have very happy memories, it was one of the best nights of my life.”

She said the value of winning a WellChild Award to the winners was: “It makes them feel more confident, and makes them feel that they are not alone.” She said at times it is possible for disabled young people to feel isolated, like there is no-one else, but said the WellChild Award made her feel: “Much more confident, excited that there’s more people like me”

The Duke asked the winners what this year has been like for them with the pandemic and lockdown.

Maddison Sherwood admitted: “It’s been quite boring, but I’ve been able to spend lots of time with my family and things like that.” When the Duke asked her who she would like to nominate for a WellChild Award she suggested her mum, which the Duke said was a perfect answer.

Marni Ahmed told the Duke about his year during the pandemic. “It’s been different, I’ve had more time on my hands, I got to do lots of different things at home and spend more time with my family.”

He remembered his experience of the WellChild Awards which included having a selfie with rapper Stormzy and the Duke. And he said his favourite part of the evening was being presented with his award.

“It was really scary to go on stage,” he said. “I mostly just stared at the lights, I didn’t want to stare at anyone because I was too scared!”

Catherine Davies, WellChild’s Family Engagement Lead, was on the call. The Duke asked her about how this year has been for WellChild.

“As a charity we could see quickly what parents needed to help them through this crisis,” she told him.

“We put together a direct response service to help people access food deliveries, medication supplies, but, most importantly, to access PPE so they could keep the carers coming into their homes to help them with their children’s 24/7 care needs. As challenging as that was to be a part of, it was incredibly rewarding to be able to step into this almost front-line role for our parents and give them that direct support that they needed day after day to get them through this crisis and this year.”

The Duke of Sussex said the WellChild Awards is one of the highlights of his year and he spoke of the bravery, strength and optimism of the winners which he finds unbelievably inspiring and refreshing.

He said: “The children and young people of WellChild are at the very heart of this charity because you guys just know who you are and don’t pretend to be anybody else and because of that you inspire every single nurse, every single care giver, every single mum, every single dad, every single sibling. And outside of the WellChild community as well you are inspiring people every single day.”

If you know someone who deserves special recognition then nominate them for a WellChild Award by visiting  or by contacting the charity on 01242 530007 to request a nomination form. The closing date for entries is Thursday 31st December 2020, 12PM.

National children’s charity, WellChild provides essential and practical support to ensure that the increasing number of seriously ill children and young people in the UK have the best chance to thrive – properly supported at home with their families.

The charity, which has The Duke of Sussex as its Patron, provides a national network of children’s nurses, who work with families to ensure that children with complex care needs can leave hospital and return home and, through its Helping Hands scheme, WellChild enlists the support of volunteers to tackle practical projects in the homes of children with serious health needs.

Through its family information, training and support services, the charity ensures parents and carers are properly supported and empowered to care for their children safely at home. During the COVID-19 crisis, WellChild set up a crisis response service to source and distribute Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to shielding families so that they can let external carers back into their home. The charity has now distributed more than 270,000 items of PPE to vulnerable families across the country since the crisis began.