31 JulReflections on our Big Day
Following our first CEO blog post on the Royal visit, we thought you might be keen to hear more from Lyn now that we have resumed life as normal!
“After the initial excitement of formally welcoming Princess Anne, we headed for the conference BCH had organised just over the road at the No1 Changsha Social Welfare Institute.
“Naomi was waiting at the lift stop on the conference floor and welcomed HRH very graciously, leading us all to the VIP meeting room where HRH was introduced to leaders in children’s palliative care in China.
“One of the assistants assigned from the Guangzhou British Consulate was supposed to alert the audience and get them standing before HRH arrived in the room, however she must have been distracted as there was a distinctly casual air as we approached with no-one standing. Naomi rushed into the room and very efficiently got people to their feet just in time!
“As our MC was still en route due to extreme weather conditions, I took the podium to welcome everybody, including HRH and the British Ambassador. Imagine how proud we were to screen our latest video collaboration, a big moment to show how much we have contributed to the education of public and healthcare staff regarding the need for children’s palliative care!
“Following this I swallowed hard and hoped I would get the title correct –before I inviting HRH to give the keynote speech, which of course she did beautifully and to a great reception. Shortly afterwards, we escorted HRH to the Butterfly Home. With the formalities behind us, we all began to relax and walking back through the newly painted corridors and stairs, there was a good deal of chat and interesting questions. I was delighted when HRH told me she had met my heroine, Gladys Aylward, who was as small as legend recounts!
“As we entered the Butterfly Home Naomi was again on door duty to welcome HRH and assist with the change of shoes for slippers, she selected a beautiful red pair from those especially bought for the day. We began the visit in the cool of my office together with the Ambassador, HRH Lady in Waiting and Alan. We skimmed through the development of BCH and the Home, our strategy of building a model which could be replicated, working within the government system to make systemic change and working towards the goal of preventing abandonment by supporting families.
“HRH understood the importance of having the Butterfly Home as a place where people could truly experience the concept of simple palliative care and the effect it has in the lives of life limited children. We discussed the enormously helpful service given in our early days by the Swinfen Trust, another of HRH’s charities – she was interested to hear the stories of children they had helped.
“Whilst we were in the office, our first group (Helen, Molin, Jenny Chu, Stephanie, young Emily, Donna and Leon – donors from Starplay Academy in Shanghai) led by Emily Guo, quietly left the Nurses Room and assembled in the small area outside the offices by the donor board and Butterfly wall. As we left the office I was to introduce these senior staff and some of our donors to HRH. A scary moment as I couldn’t put a name to one of the faces! Jenny Chu was completely transformed for the occasion by her new hairdo, dress and make up and I stuttered something as she came to my rescue and introduced herself, I could then step in and describe her role in the formation of our HK Foundation and donations to the home, sponsoring cots. Phew!
“The tour included all our staff, rooms, children and it was evident the Princess was no stranger to children in difficult situations and the challenges facing people working to care for them in developing countries.
“As we made our way back to the Butterfly area outside the offices we were expecting to see the second group (who had been ‘stored’ in the kitchen), but we must have been a little early as there was a sudden rush of activity before the group appeared!
“These donors had made it to the event through the disruption caused by the storms and floods throughout the rest of the country and we will honour them separately in another update. Thankfully Naomi was able to introduce most of these donors as it’s her area of work!
“There was a general scuffle as the entourage (including the security guys and photographer) and Alan and I took position in the narrow corridor outside the front door. When HRH had changed out of her slippers ready to leave, Alan presented her with a small memento of the occasion and the nominated “Dragon” child presented the flowers to HRH. The poor little one was fully made up with eye make up and lipstick. She had been rehearsed to the point of confusion but was really sweet and of course the Princess is used to this kind of thing.
“At the post conference meal – in discussion with Professor Liu Ji tong, I asked him for his assessment of the day. He said he was very encouraged with the progress and that the cause of children’s palliative care had been brought to the attention of officials at the highest level. He said the influence of the conference and Royal visit extended beyond Changsha, beyond Hunan and right up to government level.
“I guess what he meant is that the fact that a Royal Princess found it important enough to make a visit to a tiny NGO in the middle of China, must mean that the work is significant.
“We can certainly live with that!
Love, Lyn xx”