Royal Corner

Caring Kate Finally Meets Her Telephone Friend Len

The Duchess of Cambridge alongside her husband Prince William met the 85-year-old Yorkshireman whilst on their Royal Train Tour.

DECEMBER 7th, 2020

© Getty Images


he Duchess of Cambridge finally met the 85-year-old full-time carer Len Gardner in person today, after striking up a sweet friendship with the Yorkshireman in lockdown. The Duchess was joined by her husband Prince William as they continued their Royal Train tour of the UK, starting in Scotland and heading south through England and Wales. The Duchess surprised Len in his hometown of Batley, West Yorkshire, and was introduced to his wife Shirley, who has Alzheimer’s.

The future Queen Consort was connected with Len earlier this year whilst the country entered the first lockdown through the Royal Voluntary Service’s “Check in and Chat” scheme. Sharing two lengthy telephone conversations, the pair discussed everything from their families, to Len’s love of pasta – with the Duchess personally sending a new pasta-making machine to the 85-year-old after learning he didn’t have one.

The Duke and Duchess share a socially distanced conversation with Len. - © Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess speak with volunteers who've been supporting their communities. - © Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess leave the Volunteer centre in Batley. - © Getty Images

The news of the Duchess’ volunteer work came after a new campaign had been launched in partnership with The Sun newspaper. The Christmas Together appeal has been set up to combat loneliness within our communities over the festive period.

Back in Batley, the Duke and Duchess spoke with Len after he was recovering from an operation for bladder cancer and held a socially distanced chat. Delighted Len described his meeting with the Duchess, saying: “I am especially pleased about this day. It will live with me forever.”

To mark the occasion, both couples exchanged gifts, with the Duchess gifting what was rumoured to be a personalised hamper to Len and Shirley.

Whilst in Batley the Royal couple also met with volunteers to hear about the incredible work and support on offer for elderly people suffering from loneliness. This included sending cards, having regular phone calls and dropping off shopping, food bags and activity packs.

The visit to Batley was followed by a final stop-off in Manchester, where William and Kate visited FareShare UK. The Duke of Cambridge gave a short speech commending the work done by volunteers and “heroes” across the UK, he said: “Catherine and I felt that it was extremely important to visit just some of the heroes that have emerged this year to thank you for all that you have done.

“Whether that’s transport workers, paramedics, schoolteachers or indeed staff and volunteers like those of you online across the FareShare network or here in Manchester tonight. You are the people that have not only kept our country going but have also helped warm all our hearts by showing us the very best of human nature.”

The Duke and Duchess wait at Batley station to move onto their next location - Manchester - © KensingtonRoyal

The Duke and Duchess arrive a Manchester Victoria station. - © Getty Images

Earlier today, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge began their Royal Train Tour across the UK. The arrival follows William and Kate thanking TFL staff last night as they left London Euston station, where Shakin’ Stevens was invited to sing his festive hit single ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’.

The 80s star, whose real name in Michael Barratt said: “I’m loving it, it was lovely to be invited. It needs something to cheer us up doesn’t it? Because what we’ve got, we don’t know how long it’s going to go on for, so you have got to keep your pecker up.”

The Duke and Duchess boarded the Royal Train at London Euston station. - © Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess share a chat whilst watching Shakin Stevens - © Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge leaves a message on the TFL whiteboard - © Getty Images

The Duke of Cambridge signs a message on the TFL whiteboard - © Getty Images

The couple spoke with staff from Transport for London, with the Duke of Cambridge telling Orson Parris, a network traffic controller: “Fingers crossed 2021 gets things back to normal.” To celebrate the tour’s start, Network Rail staff altered the departure boards for the occasion, changing Wolverhampton to Warmerhampton, Coventry to Coventry Carol and Northampton to Northpolehampton.

Before departing London, the couple left a sweet message for the TFL staff thanking them for all their hard work throughout the pandemic. They wrote: “Thank you to all transport workers everywhere for keeping the country moving throughout this difficult year.

“Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

“Catherine. William”

William and Kate are currently travelling 1,250 miles across the UK to thank staff, key workers and community volunteers who have helped keep the country going throughout the pandemic. The couple hope to spread some much-needed Christmas cheer.

Their first visit was to Edinburgh, where the couple were greeted by a piper playing Christmas songs, including ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’. William and Kate also met with the Scottish Ambulance Service to hear about the challenge’s paramedics have faced throughout the pandemic and how they were coping with their own mental wellness.

The Duke and Duchess meet with NHS paramedics in Edinburgh - © Getty Images

The Duke and Duchess thank the Scottish piper for greeting them at Edinburgh station - © Getty Images

William and Kate meet three reindeer at a local primary school in Berwick - © KensingtonRoyal

The Duke and Duchess speak with children at the school - © KensingtonRoyal

Wearing face masks – to abide by Scottish COVID regulations – the Duke and Duchess also announced that they were to become Royal patrons of NHS Charities Together. The organisation backs the numerous charities across the country to support NHS staff with their mental health and wellbeing.

Ian Lush, chair of NHS Charities Together, said: "This is such an honour for our organisation and for all the NHS charities across the UK.

"The involvement of Their Royal Highnesses will inspire the public to do even more to support the amazing NHS staff and volunteers who have done so much to keep us safe and well this year. We can't wait to start working with the duke and duchess, the potential is so exciting."

The couple’s second visit of the day was to Holy Trinity Church of England First School in Berwick. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke with staff and pupils outside – to ensure social distancing – to hear about the challenges they’ve faced in keeping the children in school, and also to thank them for keep the schools going in the midst of the pandemic.

Whilst visiting the school, William and Kate met with three adorable reindeer – Chaz, Crackers and six-month-old Echols. The Duke and Duchess seemed enthralled by them – commenting on how “cute” Echols was especially.

The couple will continue their Royal Train Tour until tomorrow, where it is expected they will end it in Windsor for a family photograph alongside the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

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