A SIX-YEAR-OLD boy has appeared less than impressed with royalty as he sat slumped across from Prince William today.
Joseph Dowden barely cracked a smile as his legs dangled from the chair during the Duke of Cambridge’s visit to the Fire Fighters Charity’s centre at Harcombe House in Chudleigh, South Devon.
The youngster, who looked adorably dapper in a smart grey jacket and blue trousers with his blonde hair slicked to the side, sat expressionless next to the future king.
The schoolboy from Surrey was snapped during the 37-year-old royal’s visit as it was announced that his Shout text messaging helpline will provide support to frontline emergency responders.
And the duke, who previously worked as an air ambulance pilot, said he wanted to ensure the work emergency services did was recognised.
Speaking with wheelchair user Richard Baldwin, a retired Berkshire firefighter, and London firefighter Dan Bills, he said: “What I always find with the blue light community is that you put the hat and the uniform on and you see whole families being torn apart.
“You try and decompartmentalise, and one or two jobs catch you out.
“If the blue light community can be more open about the things that bother them, then others can as well.
“We are not robots and, if you are in the emergency services for long enough, you see really distressful things.
“All that weighs upon you, and if you have something going on at home – family, illness – it all gets on top of you, too many things to keep a lid on.”
It comes as it was announced the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s 24/7 text service would ensure those struggling with anything from suicidal thoughts to bullying could find help.
Now members of the emergency services community, retired or serving, and their families can text BLUELIGHT to 85258 and be connected to a trained and supervised volunteer.
Dr Jill Tolfrey, chief executive of the Fire Fighters Charity, said: “Supporting the mental health and well-being of the fire and rescue services community is central to our ambitions as a charity.
“So we are delighted to support an initiative that complements our own work and shares our desire to make mental health support available and accessible to as many people in need as possible.”
The initiative aims to provide an additional layer of support to the help already provided by emergency services charities and organisations backing the project, who range from the National Crime Agency and London Fire Brigade to the Ambulance Staff Charity, Police Care UK and the Fire Fighters Charity.
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Chief Constable Andy Rhodes, service director for the National Police Wellbeing Service, said: “We know that there is still a lot of stigma attached to seeking help and that many officers and staff don’t feel comfortable seeking help from their own force.
“Having this helpline as another option for them to get help if they need it in a time of crisis is vital and very much welcomed.”
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