It's not every day you get to meet a royal but for Val White it became just another day at the office when she was introduced to The Princess of Wales.  

Kate Middleton, the royal patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, first met the charity’s volunteer during a private visit to The Nook in Framlingham Earl, near Norwich, in July 2020. 

Ms White, who is in her early 60s and lives in Rockland St Mary, started volunteering as a gardener in 2018 following a bereavement within her family. 

Eastern Daily Press: The Nook gardeners Andrew John, Val White and Richard Hill

She said: “I chose to be a gardening volunteer because I enjoy being outside and it’s something very different, following a career in the NHS. 

“I’m by no means an expert but it’s been lovely meeting other gardening volunteers from varying career backgrounds. 

“When I started, I was the only one but now we’ve become a team.” 

And that team includes Andrew John, Richard Hill and Karen Nunn, who each give their time to help tend to the grounds at The Nook. 

All four are tireless helpers who play a key role in ensuring the outside space provides an eye-catching, peaceful environment for families. 

Retired teacher Mr John, 60, of Cringleford, has been volunteering for 18 months. 

Eastern Daily Press: Prince of Wales, Kate Middleton, at The Nook

He said: “I look forward to seeing everyone and have enjoyed becoming part of a team with common interests. 

"Our core purpose is to provide the very best outside environment for families to feel relaxed in. 

“I like all aspects of gardening, even cutting the brambles back from the trees they’re invading, but my favourite parts would be the flowerbeds, especially in the spring when the tulips are out." 

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Mr Hill, of Poringland, is also a valued member of the facilities team and helps in various ways, supporting the gardening team from spring to autumn. 

“It’s mainly grass-cutting, strimming and generally keeping the grounds tidy but I’m happy to do whatever’s asked of me,” he said. 

"I enjoy whizzing around on the sit-on lawnmower and it's great to see the grass looking neat. 

“I do one day a week and that’s not enough to get all the grass cut, so it's almost a two-week rolling scope of work.” 

Eastern Daily Press: The Nook gardener Karen Nunn

Finally Ms Nunn, from nearby Wreningham, has been volunteering for three years. 

Her first few shifts were spent helping plant as many spring bulbs as possible from around 15,000 donated by Notcutts. 

She added: “I’ve always been interested in gardening and wanted to give some of my spare time for the benefit of the community once I left full-time employment. 

“Becoming a garden volunteer was a perfect match and also gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people and make new friends. 

“Tasks I enjoy most are planting up the patio containers for the summer. 

“The view across the grounds and to the landscape beyond is amazing. 

“The tulips look lovely, especially combined with the ornamental grasses which have long flower spikes and sway in the breeze.” 

Eastern Daily Press: Prince of Wales, Kate Middleton, at The Nook

Other gardening volunteers who also lend their time and play a key role include Andrew Levesley, Tricia Black, Jenny Orton and Sarah Scotter. 

Each, which supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions, has two other hospices in addition to The Nook. Each has its own dedicated team of gardening volunteers. 

  • To find out more about volunteering there email or contact volunteer services on 01223 205183. 

Eastern Daily Press: Prince of Wales, Kate Middleton, at The Nook