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Comment 13 SEPTEMBER 2012

Kate cheers terminally ill boy with birthday card before her first foreign speech


She was there to give her first speech abroad, but the Duchess of Cambridge's visit to Hospis Malaysia will be remembered for another reason.

Zakwan Anuar, who has acute leukaemia, stole the royal's heart after they met during her tour of the centre's facilities.


Duchess of Cambridge


A moved Kate spent a long time chatting with the little boy, telling him he was "very, very brave" and "very handsome".

And the caring royal left 15-year-old Zakwan with a precious momento – a signed birthday card which read: "Happy Birthday Zakwan, Catherine."

That touching encounter – and her husband Prince William's calming presence – undoubtedly bolstered Kate as she gave her first speech on foreign soil.


Duchess of Cambridge

Hospis Malaysia – the country's first ever specialist programme for very sick and terminally ill children – was the setting for her maiden overseas address. This followed her home debut at British hospice, The Treehouse.


In her speech, Kate spoke about the Malaysian centre's partnership with her UK patronage.

And she was full of praise for the work done there after meeting with some of the young patients beforehand.

"This is a very special place and so much is already being achieved," she said.

"It has been wonderful meeting the patients, families and all the staff here – you have given us the most wonderful welcome."


Duchess of Cambridge


Loud applause greeted the end of her speech, which was markedly more confident than her debut earlier in the year.

None clapped louder than William, whose wide smile clearly conveyed the pride he felt for his wife's achievement and the progress she has made as a working royal. 

The Duchess – looking pretty in the lacy, Forties-inspired Jenny Packham dress she had earlier worn to the Kranji War Memorial in Singapore – stepped down to greet her husband, relieved at having accomplished what was an important objective for her.

"The Duchess wanted to establish contacts between her charities here and charities overseas, and she hopes that a legacy of this visit will be to get a dialogue going between EACH and Hospis Malaysia," her private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, had said ahead of the tour.


Duchess' speech in full
    "William and I are hugely excited to be in Malaysia – this, our first ever visit - and are absolutely delighted to have been invited to join you all here at Hospis Malaysia.

    "It is so exciting to learn about the Country's very first paediatric palliative care programme and to witness for myself something of the wonderful work of Hospis Malaysia's superb staff.

    "As Patron of East Anglia Children's Hospice, a UK based charity, I am thrilled to hear that you have been working with Hospis Malaysia, and that you plan to collaborate as you roll out this new programme.

    "Through this Patronage, I have learnt that delivering the best possible palliative care to children is vital. Providing children and their families with a place of support, care and enhancement at a time of great need is simply life changing.

    "With effective palliative care lives can be transformed. Treatment, support, care and advice can provide a lifeline to families at a time of great need.

    "This is a very special place and so much is already being achieved. It has been wonderful meeting the patients, families and all the staff here - you have given us the most wonderful welcome.

    "Thank you again for inviting us here - and all the very best to this exciting new initiative!"

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