Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Kate Launches Mentally Healthy Schools: “My Own Commitment is to the Youngest, Most Vulnerable in Their Early Years"

This morning, the Duchess of Cambridge visited Roe Green Junior School to launch Mentally Healthy Schools - Heads Together's new mental health project to support the mental health of young children in junior schools. Building on the success of the campaign last year, William, Kate and Harry are each driving forward a series of programmes in 2018 to ensure people get access to the right help when and where they need it.

Kate was greeted by a sea of Heads Together flags.

The Duchess was serenaded by pupils.

As the campaign progresses, Kate's focus will be on supporting young people. The Palace said: "For the Duchess of Cambridge, supporting young people was always at the heart of Heads Together, and is a key focus of Her Royal Highness's work at the Royal Foundation. One in five children will experience a mental health difficulty at least once before the age of 11, and many adults with mental health issues can trace their symptoms back to childhood. In many cases, it is known that children can wait up to 10 years before effective diagnosis or treatment."

What is Mentally Healthy Schools and how will it aid children and teachers? It is a a website designed to give teachers and school staff the clarity and practical resources they need in order to support pupils. 'Mentally Healthy Schools' will be a free and easy to use website for schools, drawing together reliable and practical resources to improve awareness, knowledge and confidence in promoting and supporting pupils’ mental health. The content will be provided in four main areas; Teaching Resources, Risks and Protective Factors, Mental Health Needs, and 'Whole School Approach' for school leaders.

The Palace noted: "Teachers and staff play a pivotal role in a young person's life, but they currently struggle to find the right resources in order to provide the most effective support for children in their care. Up until now, the array of online resources has been difficult to navigate; it is often unclear whether items are expertly verified, and teachers are often unsure how appropriate the advice is for their particular age-group or issue. Over the course of this project's development more than 1,500 online resources have been reviewed and evaluated by a quality assurance group to ensure the calibre and suitability for a primary school audience." Every primary school in the UK will get free access to the website providing reliable and tested resources suitable for the classroom. Initially tailored to the curriculum in all primary schools in England, most resources will be universal and available later this term. Further resources specific to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be released in due course. The website will be made publicly available in the Spring.

More from the press release:

Former Head Teacher, Claire Thomson, one of the Quality Assurance Advisors to the website said: “I can see this website becoming a favourite go-to site for information about the many aspects of mental health. I think it is really important that all school staff feel that the information applies to them as well, not just to teachers. So, no matter what their role in the school, they need to have an understanding and empathy towards all the children.
“It is like a huge jigsaw but when you sit and go through all the different aspects, as I have had the privilege to do, you can see so many more connections and possible ways forward than if you were to look at each aspect in isolation. The different links to other pages should also enable everyone in the primary school to make more connections, widen their understanding and make a difference to the wellbeing of so many more children. The website is proof that there is so much help out there and now people know where to look for it.”
Sarah Hannafin, NAHT Senior Policy Advisor, said: “NAHT are very pleased to support The Royal Foundation and its partners on this project and are delighted The Duchess of Cambridge is focusing on this vital area of work. School leaders have been clear that they need access to high quality resources to help schools’ work in supporting children’s mental wellbeing. This new website will be a fantastic practical resource for schools, drawing together quality assured and useful information and resources into one place. We’d encourage all primary school leaders and their teams to bookmark it.”

The project is very much a collaboration and has been developed in partnership with Heads Together charity partners the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Place2Be and Young Minds. NAHT, the school leaders’ association, has also been engaged in developing the initiative with guidance from the Centre for Mental Health. It is coordinated and financed by the Royal Foundation.

The Duchess met pupils and teachers before participating in a lesson designed to help support a child's mental health and well-being.

The lesson was planned using resources from the Mentally Healthy Schools website.

Victoria Murphy reports Kate told one pupil: "Charlotte is only two and a half, she's still very little".

On George, Kate said "He's four, he's getting bigger. He's at school today".

A thumbs up from a little girl who met Kate.

During a speech to launch the programme Kate said "My own commitment is to the youngest and most vulnerable in their early years - babies, toddlers and school-children - and to support all those who care for them". The Duchess added "The ultimate goal is that no primary school teacher, anywhere in the country, should in future have to wonder where to turn when it comes to the wellbeing of children in their care."

Kate's speech in full:

'Hello everyone, and thank you to all those that I have met this morning, children and staff.
Over the last two years, William and Harry and I have been honoured to take part in a national conversation on mental health through our Heads Together campaign. We know that mental health is an issue for us all – children and parents, young and old, men and women - of all backgrounds and of all circumstances. What we have seen first-hand is that the simple act of having a conversation about mental health – that initial breaking of the silence – can make a real difference.
But, as you here today know: starting a conversation is just that – it's a start. This is particularly true of the conversations that take place in our schools, and with our children. I see time and time again that there is so much to be gained from talking of mental health and taking the mental health of our children as seriously as we do their physical health. When we intervene early in life, we help avoid problems that are much more challenging to address in adulthood.
My own commitment is to the youngest and most vulnerable in their early years - babies, toddlers and school-children – and to support all those who care for them. The role of teachers here is absolutely vital. You see our children as they grow, learn and play, as they build their social skills that will make the difference to their futures. You are uniquely placed to help children speak out about their mental and emotional challenges, and direct parents and carers to the right support.
I am all too aware, however, of how much we ask teachers to take on. Teachers want to help, but don't have the time to go hunting for the best information and advice out there. You need resources you can trust. And you need to have easy access to them at all times.
That is what this pilot is all about. Led by the Royal Foundation, with close collaboration from our Heads Together partners, this new online resource will transform schools’ access to high-quality information, and guide teachers and school leaders towards the best support out there. The ambition is to roll this website out this year so it's available to every teacher in every primary school in the UK. The ultimate goal is that all teachers in the country should know where to turn for expert resources to support the emotional well-being and mental health of children in their care.
I would ask each of you here today to work with the Foundation to develop this new essential resource. Please let us know what works, what doesn't, and what else you would like to see. This project has been collaboration from day one. It will only succeed if we continue to work together. And with that in mind, it's so exciting to see the Department for Education, represented by the Minister here today, taking such a close interest.
Finally, I'd like to say a huge thank you to you all. We would not be here today without the help of our Heads Together partners, including the Anna Freud Centre, Place2Be and Young Minds. I am grateful, too, to the Centre for Mental Health, the National Association of Head Teachers and the fifty schools taking part in this pilot. I am so excited to see where this work will take us in future. Thank you.'

Kate's public speaking has improved enormously. Today's topic is one she's clearly passionate about and I imagine quite a bit of time was spent preparing and rehearsing it. I thought it very important to recognise our teachers and their tireless work. Creating a resource to aid them in helping children in the most efficient and effective manner can only prove a positive addition to any school.

The formal launch was attended by the Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, and included a speech from Simon Marshall, Director of Educational Services at Together for Children Sunderland. Mr Marshall said “Over half of all mental ill health starts before the age of 14 years and 75% has developed by the age of 18."

Richard Palmer took this photo before Kate left. You can see her private secretary Catherine Quinn in the background.

Kate brought back the blue Sportsmax coat she wore when she was expecting Princess Charlotte.

The coat originally came from the 2014 Collection and retailed for $2,490. Below, we see the similar Gerbera style.


There was a touch of confusion regarding the designer of Kate's gorgeous blue dress today. Kensington Palace told reporters it was by maternity brand Seraphine, then corrected the information crediting Sportsmax as the brand. It turns out Kate's dress is in fact by Seraphine. Reporter Danielle Stacey received confirmation it is a sold out style. The £99 Royal Blue Tailored Dress is described as "Cut for an elegant A-line shape and draping beautifully to the knee, this dress will take you from the office to a stylish cocktail party. Made in premium stretch woven fabric, it will adapt to your growing curves throughout your pregnancy." When Kate was expecting George, she ordered a selection of Seraphine dresses. Perhaps this gem has been in her closest since then?


The Duchess wore the Beulah London Elena Scarf in 'navy henri print'.

The Duchess wore her navy Rupert Sanderson Malory pumps.

Rupert Sanderson

Kate accessorised with her beautiful G Collins & Sons Tanzanite Pendant and earrings.

And her Cartier Ballon Bleu watch.


Speaking of speeches, I couldn't conclude today's post without including the terrific keynote speech William delivered at the Charity Commission's AGM discussing collaboration, compassion and trust within the charity sector.

In his speech, William shared how becoming a father prompted him to begin "a process of thinking" about the way he was brought up and the values his parents and grandparents instilled in him. He touched on the challenging time the charitable sector is going through at the moment; public trust is at an all time low in recent years and scandal after scandal has hit sectors across the board painfully - both financially and in terms of public perception. William talked about his belief in charities working together, joining forces and pooling resources. He mentioned the need to grow and nurture existing charities instead of creating new ones in an already overcrowded space. In the years to come we're going to see a streamlined monarchy with far less charities having a Royal Patron. I suspect bringing charities together will be an integral part of the monarchy's future.

'Addressing all of you is, I admit, somewhat daunting. There is an awful lot of goodness in this room! And to speak standing behind Michael Faraday’s desk is pretty intimidating. I could make a pun here about being sparky but I'll resist. More to the point, where do you begin when you have a few minutes in which to speak but so much to say about charity - its central importance to a healthy society, what it means to me, the future of philanthropy, and so on.
As some of you who know me may attest, I am not short of an opinion or two, and there is no topic more guaranteed to see me wax lyrical than this - charity, what is it and why it matters. So, I thought I’d start with something personal - a tribute to my parents. I have two children as you probably know (I gather it has been widely reported); and when I first became a father about four and half years ago, I began a process of thinking about the way I had been brought up, and the values that my parents had instilled in me. As any parent will know, this process is not necessarily one that you undertake consciously - you find that certain values and habits, ones that you didn’t know you had, start bubbling up to the surface.
Some of my earliest memories relate to times that my parents spoke to me or - even better -showed me what it meant to have both privilege and responsibilities. I remember being taken by my mother to a homelessness shelter at a young age, her explaining to me why the people I met there matter; why no society can be healthy unless we take other people seriously.
From my father, I learned how central charity was to his life his sense of purpose. The Prince’s Trust is not an arms-length organisation for my father. He cares deeply about The Prince's Trust because it is a living projection of his values.
As a young child, I recall evening after evening my father's diligence and compassion as he applied himself to answering thousands of letters and reading endless reports in order to stay on top of his ambition to do all he could to help the underprivileged.
Without my realising it, what my parents were doing was instilling in me and Harry a lifelong habit to put charity at the heart of our lives. My father, of course, had inherited this very same habit from his parents. My grandfather Prince Philip has been one of the most tireless public servants of this country, deeply committed to helping young people fulfil their potential.
My grandmother The Queen has never given a Christmas broadcast without paying tribute to charitable organisations, volunteers and people who care for others. My family have not done this because it looks good - they do it because charity is not an optional extra in society. We believe that, above anything else, charities nurture, repair, build and sustain our society. Without the work that charities do, society would be an empty shell.
It goes without saying that my family are not unique in this belief, and nor are these beliefs new. Charities have been actively supported by the Royal Family since at least the reign of George III. The generosity of the British people today - almost unsurpassed in the world - reveals a society that has embedded a commitment to charity at the heart of what binds us together. The giving of both time and money is instilled in children in this country as a habit at a young age. Some symbols of this attitude are very visible - the red poppy for remembrance, the AIDS ribbon, and so on. But these are the tip of the iceberg. Cake sales, fun runs, washing a neighbour's car for a donation, even simply having a monthly standing order – all largely unseen, but all priceless acts of charity.
But with this spirit of charity comes a responsibility on the part of those of you who channel the generosity into action. The charitable sector has to maintain the trust of those who support it, and it has to both balance continuity and embrace change.
In some respects, the challenges you face are not dissimilar to those faced by other age-old institutions such as the Monarchy, always seeking to ensure relevance and public service. The concept of trusteeship is not just a legal necessity - it invokes the idea of sound stewardship of values and institutions passing from one generation to the next. As a society, we imbue that stewardship with a great deal of importance. The health of our charities are the surest gauge of the health of our society. When charities are succeeding and adapting, we can afford to be optimistic about the future of our society.
When charities fail, for whatever reason - lack of money or a failure of governance – that also tells us something about the health of our nation, which we do well to note. Why is it that this bond of trust we place in charities really matters? Why are charities such a bell-weather of societal well-being? I have a theory about this: we all know that society is becoming in lots of ways more atomised and polarised. There is no doubt that public debate seems coarser and more personal than ever, fuelled partly by anonymity online and the commercialisation of our news. We are running the risk of a silo society in which we allow differences of opinion to separate us.
In that context, it is more important than ever to nurture those institutions which transcend differences between us, which motivate us to put self-interest aside and which, explicitly, are beyond politics. Charities do this - in fact, they are the only on-the-ground infrastructure that we have in this country that does this.
From the micro level - village halls, youth clubs, churches - through to the macro level – national parks, institutions of learning and research – charities of all shapes and sizes have to be inclusive.
So, given your central importance, it’s vital that you succeed. And to succeed, you need to hold yourself open to account and to have critical friends. Some of the challenges you face are already well rehearsed. Finding more money in a shrinking pot is an existential threat to charities’ survival. Yet survive you must.
One of the ways that my brother and I approached this challenge many years ago was to encourage collaboration between charities. We want to support the charitable sector just as much as generations of our family before, but the model of how we do this will continue to evolve as much in the future as it has in the past.
To give you an example of that evolution, there are a number of sectors in which I have become closely involved and in which I am not Patron of one of the charities. United for Wildlife, the Taskforce the Prevention of Cyberbullying, Heads Together – all areas to which I am deeply committed, but not through particular attachment to one charity over and above others. My brother has followed a similar path in his work with charities supporting veterans. Where we do have an official affiliation, as Patron or President, what all three of us have sought to do is to encourage greater collaboration and coordination between the charities with which we have official affiliations.
To be honest, in most cases, we have not had to encourage much. Creative and entrepreneurial charitable leaders have banded together in some of the unlikeliest ways to assist one another. Mountain rescue volunteers have accompanied young people from Centrepoint, Child Bereavement UK and WellChild for adventure days which both hone the Mountain Rescue volunteers’ skills and allow vulnerable but ambitious young people to broaden their horizons.
Bafta have provided everything from spaces for charities to fundraise to facilitating a day out with Paddington Bear for children from 17 other charities. There are countless other examples which our Charities Forum has engendered. Taking the logic of collaboration a step further, six years ago my brother, Catherine and I set up the Royal Foundation. This is not the time for me to explain the detailed rationale behind this organisation, suffice to say that we are very proud of the way that its programmes have all to date been built on the principle of working together.
Collaboration, convening, working in partnership - all are different ways of saying the same thing: we don’t have the answers but you do, and even more so when you work together.
The Royal Foundation’s Coach Core programme unites numerous different organisations working with sport and young people in cities across the UK to deliver life-changing training; Full Effect in Nottingham works with very small neighbourhood charities to reduce knife crime by taking the young people of St Ann’s Nottingham seriously; and Heads Together is a coalition of eight charities with numerous other partners to get this country talking about mental health.
I have been encouraged of late by examples of real willingness to work together elsewhere in the sector. The seven charities of varying size and clientele who, with the help of the Charity Commission, came together to support the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Their collaboration has undoubtedly done much to ease the unimaginable pain of that community.cIn a completely different way, the forthcoming merger of Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer - two charities working to similar ends, and which are merging from a position of strength - is hugely worthy of praise. Together, I have no doubt that they will achieve more to fight bowel cancer together than they could have done on their own.
This leaves me to think that this approach could go further. Instead of setting up more individual charities working in the same fields, I wonder if we could do more to explore ways of combining forces, working and innovating together? I do wonder at times if the compassion which leads people to set up or maintain charities could not be equally well directed at first finding opportunities to work with existing charities. Competition for funds between an ever-growing number of charities, and the confusion it can cause among donors, can lead to the silo-ing of expertise and, at worst, territorial behaviour.
I know that this message is not always easy to hear: charities exist because those who work and volunteer for them each believe passionately in its importance. And they are right to do so. But as the challenges of the future begin to bear down on us, I believe that this big shift must begin to happen – the sector must be open to collaborate, to share expertise and resources; to focus less on individual interests and more on the benefits that working together will bring. That, I believe, is where the future lies.
In all of this, it’s worth saying, of course, that the sector is not standing still in relation to its challenges, not least on account of the dedication of the Charity Commission. The Commission upholds the highest standards for the sector. Under William’s leadership, and with its highly professional and committed staff, the Charity Commission is not only a strong and trustworthy regulator but also a positive source of guidance. William, your successor has big shoes to fill.
To the whole charity sector I say this, thank you for what you do and for the excellence with which you do it. If I may, I would like to conclude on a high note. One of the most fun and enjoyable aspects of my work as I travel around the country is seeing your work – a great antidote to cynicism. If you lived your life on Twitter, or on news pages, you could be forgiven for assuming that society is falling apart: natural and manmade disasters, terrorism, economic uncertainty; our national institutions perhaps not appearing to be the bulwark they once were.
These challenges are all real, but they are not the whole story - in fact, they are not even half the story: kindness, compassion, neighbourliness, big and small acts of generosity form the glue of our society, and our links to other parts of the world. Charity facilitates and channels that generosity. The very word 'charity', which means care and has its roots in the doctrine of Christian love, points to the central humanity and importance of what you do. I cannot thank all of you in this room enough for it. We all in this country owe you a great deal for your service.
It is my firm belief that this country's charitable sector can collectively face the challenges of the future with great confidence because of the spirit of care which guides you.
 I hope, for my part, that I can continue to be of service to you all in the years to come.'

You can view the full speech here.


Also today, a very warm congratulations to Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank on their engagement. The happy couple announced the wonderful news yesterday. Like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, they have chosen St George's Chapel Windsor as the venue for their nuptials which will take place in autumn. Mr Brooksbank proposed in Nicaragua earlier this month. Of the proposal Eugenie said "the lake was so beautiful. The light was just a special light I had never seen. I actually said, ‘This is an incredible moment,’ and then he popped the question, which was really surprising even though we have been together seven years. I was over the moon. It was a complete surprise. But it was the perfect moment, we couldn't be happier". Added Jack, who got down on one knee for the proposal: "It was amazing. I love Eugenie so much, and we're very happy." The dazzling ring is a blush-coloured padparadscha sapphire ring surrounded by diamonds.

The engagement interview is available on YouTube.

What an amazing year 2018 is going to be for the Royal family; two weddings and two babies! :)

Tomorrow, The Duchess will visit The Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, at King’s College London, and the Perinatal Service at Bethlem Royal Hospital

Sunday, 21 January 2018

It's Time for Our Final 'End of Year' Polls: Vote for Kate's Best Skirt Suit, Hat & Designer of 2017!

Good evening, are you all having a nice weekend?

We're back with our final 'Best of 2017' polls! With just over a week until the Cambridges' tour of Sweden and Norway, and three interesting engagements scheduled for Kate, I want to wrap up with three final polls: Kate's Best Skirt Suit, Best Designer and Best Hat. At some point next weekend, we'll have the results prepared for our annual 'Kate Fashion Awards' post. It's been insightful to see your choices thus far; I'm looking forward to seeing how you all vote for these...

Best Skirt Suit of 2017

Throughout 2017, Kate debuted a selection of stylish skirt suits and brought back popular looks from her wardrobe. In fact, I think several of her most successful looks from the year fall into the separates category. For a visit to her patronage East Anglia's Children's Hospices in Quidenham last January, Kate looked sophisticated in the rich green Hobbs London Sinead Skirt Suit.

At the Place2Be Big Assembly, the Duchess wore her much-loved red Luisa Spagnoli suit.

It was Oscar de la Renta for the Guild of Heath Writers Conference. The violet skirt suit features a three-quarter sleeve, tailored jacket and is rendered in a wool blend, featuring a pointed collar, dual breast pockets and a pleated, flared hem.

In Wales, the Duchess wore her short and chic Paule Ka suit.

I did a double take when photos started to come in from Kate's visit to Ronald McDonald House in February. She wore a new Rebecca Taylor Sparkle Tweed Suit, which is incredibly similar to another sparkle tweed in the same colour she's worn multiple times by the designer.

Kate gave her gorgeous Eponine London skirt suit a second outing in March for an engagement with Best Beginnings. The top features a boat neck and three-quarter sleeves, while the skirt is A-line. It originally retailed for £1,200. The womenswear brand is "inspired by the elegant lines of the fifties and sixties". Every garment is designed and made in London for women who seek out individuality and who desire to be both chic and contemporary.

For a visit to the Global Academy, Kate selected a smart red skirt suit by Armani Collezioni. Made in Italy, the $848 single-breasted suit features a dart-seam front zip jacket, round collar and pencil skirt. It's a classic Armani suit which could take Kate to a number of engagements.

We mentioned Kate's original Rebecca Taylor Sparkle Tweed Suit earlier in the post. She wore it in June when she visited King's College Hospital to visit those affected by the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks.

During William and Kate's tour of Poland, Kate wore a floral top and midi skirt in Hurst Rose Print by Erdem.

And for the Cambridges' Christmas Card, Duchess Kate wore her bespoke blue Catherine Walker suit.

Kate's Best Skirt Suit of 2017
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Best Hat of 2017

The Duchess has quite the collection of hats; from elegant chapeaus to wide brimmed, we saw an array of stylish millinery modelled by the Duchess in 2017. First, it's the lovely £325 navy Tiffany drop-brim hat by Lock & Co, inspired by the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany's. This one is hard to beat and frames Kate's face beautifully.

On St Patrick's Day, the Duchess sported her rich green Lock & Co hat.

Kate wore her black Sylvia Fletcher for Lock & Co. Salsa Fascinator for a service following the Westminster attacks.

For Easter with the Queen at Windsor, the Duchess chose a cream pillbox hat with a signature bow at the back.

It was the Lock & Co 'Sweet Delight' hat for the Queen's Garden Party. The style is 100% woven straw and retailed for £875.

The Duchess wore a bespoke pink hat by milliner Jane Taylor for Pippa's wedding.

I loved Kate's Jane Taylor with exquisite swirling design for Trooping the Colour.

Kate was all white in a new bespoke hat with flower detail for Royal Ascot.

In Belgium for Commemorations, the Duchess chose her Lock & Marisabel hat. It was described as a "piece that has been handcrafted by Sylvia Fletcher, Lock & Co.'s leading milliner. The hat has been sculpted using sinamay and then finished with a curled feather in a matching tone".

And for day two in Belgium, it the Jane Taylor Fleur hat.

It was Kate's wide-brimmed Philip Treacy hat for Remembrance Sunday.

At the Grenfell Tower National Memorial Service, the Duchess sported a new navy hat.

And for Christmas Day, Kate completed her festive look with the Peruvian Connection Vallnord Alpaca Fur Hat.

Kate's Best Hat of 2017
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Best Designer of 2017

When I looked back over Kate's wardrobe from 2017, I decided to narrow the 'Best Designer' poll down to three options. It will come as no surprise to see Alexander McQueen front and centre with nine looks by the brand worn by the Duchess last year. Since Kate collaborated with Sarah Burton to create her wedding gown in 2011 the two have enjoyed a splendid fashion relationship which continues to produce regal results in the style department. From the off-the-shoulder gown for the BAFTAs to the elegant white Ascot dress and the vivid pink paperbag dress for Trooping, it's been another year where McQueen reigned supreme. How will the brand fare in the poll?

Jenny Packham remains Queen of the Night when it comes to Kate's evening wear choices. Once again, we saw shimmering bespoke gowns with ornate embellishment ensuring the Duchess sparkled throughout the evening. For the Diplomatic Reception, Packham created an ivory gown for Kate; here's hoping we see it on another occasion! We also saw the designer create a marigold day dress for the Germany leg of the tour.

Last but certainly not least, in 2017 Catherine Walker was cemented as a prominent, signature label in Kate's wardrobe. Owing to a selection of beautifully-tailored, bespoke coats and the gorgeous white floral dress at Wimbledon, the Duchess has become increasingly fond of the brand's timeless, fuss-free looks. The late, Diana, Princess of Wales relied on the brand to create her most iconic looks; as the Duchess transitions into the Princess of Wales, I think we might see the same!

Happy voting! :)

Kate's Best Designer of 2017
pollcode.com free polls

We'll see you on Tuesday when the Duchess is to launch a new mental health project for young children - the latest initiative from Heads Together - during a visit to Roe Green Junior School in Brent.

Kate's Favourites