Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

Prince William heartbreak: Duke reveals ‘profound’ moment which inspired charity

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The Duke of Cambridge worked as a helicopter pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance Service for several years, and he has been linked with the service ever since, becoming a patron of London’s Air Ambulance Charity back in March. Back in May he gave permission for air ambulances to use the lawn of the Kensington Palace for refuelling during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Having seen first-hand the incredible work of air ambulance teams both on the front line and behind the scenes, I hold a profound respect for all that you do,” he wrote in an open letter earlier this week to mark the beginning of Air Ambulance Week 2020.

“Whether you are part of the critical care team bringing vital medical support to patients when every second counts; an engineer who ensures that crews can be safely deployed at a moment’s notice.

“Or a volunteer working to keep the service running, the country owes you an enormous debt of gratitude.”

But the duke has also previously recalled on the difficult aspects of the job – including one tragedy that almost certainly inspired his work in mental health charity.

Speaking of his experience, he said: “One of the first call outs I made was to a young man who had committed suicide; it was an incredibly tough day and had a profound effect on all of us.”

Since his time with the air ambulance service, the prince has made a remarkable effort with supporting and promoting the value of having good mental health.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spearhead the Heads Together initiative, which combines a campaign to tackle stigma and change the conversation on mental health with fundraising for a series of innovative new mental health services.

The Royal Foundation works with leading charity Mind on a variety of initiatives, including mental health in sport, work, and for children.

A mission statement on the website reads: “Mental health matters just as much as our physical health, yet too often it is ignored, misunderstood and neglected.

“It is one of the biggest public health issues of today, impacting all aspects of society. It is simply wrong that 330,000 people in Britain lose their jobs each year due to mental health, or that one in 10 children has a diagnosable condition.”

The duke has also spoken candidly about his own mental health, raising awareness about the need to eradicate the stigma that surrounds mental health.

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The prince said he first began to struggle after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, describing his loss in the BBC documentary Football, Prince William and our Mental Health earlier this year as a “pain like no other”.

He also revealed becoming a father brought back feelings and traumas he experienced when he suddenly lost his mother in 1997.

He said: “Having children is the biggest life-changing moment, it really is.
“I think when you’ve been through something traumatic in life – your emotions come back in leaps and bounds because it’s a very different phase of life.

“And there’s no one there to, kind of, help you, and I definitely found it very, at times, overwhelming.”

The Prince also revealed earlier this year that he has been secretly working as a volunteer supporting people contacting a crisis helpline for mental health support, he has revealed.

Unbeknown to those who have accessed the Shout mental health text-messaging service, Prince William was one of its 2,000 trained volunteers.

Kensington Palace was previously reluctant to say whether the royal was a volunteer for fear that Shout might be overloaded by people hoping to discuss their troubles with the future king.

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