Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice were left moved after hearing the story of a pensioner who has kept the memory of her grandson alive by fundraising for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The royal sisters listened as Enid Waterfall, 85, from Wrexham, described how she has been a tireless campaigner for the charity – as her grandson Richard had been – during its inaugural awards ceremony staged virtually last Tuesday.
Mrs Waterfall’s grandson died in 2018 after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that affects the bones or the tissues around them, and he inspired her to stage fundraising events with husband Norman, 89, which have raised more than £28,000.
Eugenie asked the award-winning grandmother about creating a “legacy” for her grandson: “First of all, to hear about your grandson Richard – what an amazing thing to do, in honour of his memory. I think it almost chokes me up a bit because it must be so difficult to do that.”
Mrs Waterfall said about her fundraising: “Strangely enough you feel closer to Richard when you’re doing it.
“And the reaction from people – it’s not me, it’s the people who give, it’s the people who work with me, it’s everyone who approaches you and keeps giving money – time after time after time.”
She apologised as she smiled and wiped away a tear and Beatrice also dabbed at her eyes as she said: “Thank you for all your incredible work… for you and also for Richard’s legacy – thank you for everything.”
During the event Eugenie, whose father-in-law was treated in intensive care for coronavirus, sympathised with medical staff who have to give heartbreaking phone call updates to the families of Covid-19 patients.
Her comments were made to nurse consultant Nicky Pettitt who was recognised with an award for redeploying from supporting young people with cancer to a coronavirus ward.
Eugenie said to the Ms Pettitt: “My husband’s father was in hospital and every time we spoke to someone, who had to tell us the news, they had to ring every patient’s family that day.
“That must’ve been such an awful thing to have to do.”
Ms Pettitt, who supports young people at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, replied: “As a cancer nurse you’re used to having difficult conversations and complex conversations, the skill set is there and that becomes very transferable…
“I don’t know if it was frightening, I think it was very humbling really. We didn’t appreciate the impact we would have both for the patient’s families, to be that lifeline.”
Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank were told more than once to “prepare for the worst” when Jack’s father George Brooksbank was put on a ventilator for five weeks.
But the 71-year-old retired chartered accountant and company director recovered from the life-threatening bout of Covid-19 and has since described his treatment as “incredible”.
The royal sisters are honorary patrons of the Teenager Cancer Trust and Eugenie said: “It has been a real honour for Beatrice and I to present these awards to such dedicated, kind and inspiring individuals.
“Hearing what it has been like working on the frontline, the personal stories that drive fundraising and how inspirational young people have campaigned in the face of adversity – and all during a global pandemic – will stay with us forever.”