A YOUNG boy got to rub shoulders with Royalty during a memorable visit to a hospice.
Five-year-old Adam Butterfield wowed The Countess of Wessex during a visit to the Butterwick Hospice Care in Stockton, which treats children and young people from Hartlepool and East Durham.
She officially opened the first specialist facility for young adults with life limiting illnesses in Teesside and County Durham at the hospice yesterday.
East Durham boy Adam is a regular visitor at the hospice and is one of only around a dozen people in the UK with the chromosome abnormality Emmanuel Syndrome, which is so rare there are only 200 cases in the world.
His condition means he cannot walk unaided and doctors say he could suffer a string of health problems including heart seizures, kidney failure, and asphyxiation.
The visit also marked the 30th Anniversary of the charity’s foundation.
Adam and his mum Nicola McAllister chatted to the Countess during the visit as Adam enjoyed the soft play area.
Nicola, from Peterlee, said: “When the Countess came in she just came straight up and sat right beside us. She said how handsome Adam looked in his little shirt and tie.
“The Countess asked where we lived and how often we come to the hospice and if Adam enjoys coming here, which he really does. The hospice has been part of our lives for the last four years and enables us to have a nice break and I know he is really well looked after.
“The Countess also asked what Adam most liked to play with when he is at Butterwick House and I said he loves anything that is noisy!”
The new extension to the hospice for teenagers and young adults represents a £400,000 investment by the charity specifically to meet the specialist needs of older teenagers and young adults up to twenty-five who suffer a life limiting progressive illness.
Butterwick Hospice chief executive Graham Leggatt-Chidgey said: “Since the opening of Butterwick Children’s Hospice in 1998 one of the challenges we have faced is providing care in an appropriate setting for a wide age range - previously new born to 19 years.
“As medical care improves, a number of the children live into young adulthood and there is currently an absence of suitable services for these older teenagers and young adults with complex healthcare needs in our area. The nearest similar facilities are in Gosforth, Newcastle, and Boston Spa in West Yorkshire.
“It is therefore especially relevant as we celebrate our 30th anniversary to be able to extend our services into an area where there is such a pressing local need.”
He added that both the 30th anniversary and the opening of Butterwick House are significant milestones in the hospice’s history, which have been made particularly memorable by the visit of Her Royal Highness.