Kate's Valentine's Day date: With William away in Falklands the Duchess of Cambridge does her bit for charity


By Deborah Arthurs

Kate arrives in Liverpool where she will pay a visit to The Brink, an alcohol-free bar for recovering addicts, before meeting a six-year-old heart patient at Alder Hey Children's Hospital

With William thousands of miles away in the Falkland Islands, Kate would have been forgiven for spending this Valentine's Day cuddled up at home with her new cocker spaniel for company.

Instead, the glamorous Duchess of Cambridge donned a £369 coat from high street store Hobbs and proved her mettle as a working royal with a solo tour of a host of Liverpool's charities.

If she was missing her husband, she certainly didn't let on as she was greeted by cheering crowds who jostled to hand Kate flowers, cards and gifts.

Eight-year-old Jaqson Johnston-Lynch was one of the lucky ones who got to meet Kate, as he handed the duchess a bunch of red roses, a cupcake with the words 'Jaqson loves Kate' and a card.

Kate wears the sapphire and diamond engagement ring that once belonged to William's late mother Diana

Accepting the gift with a gracious smile, Kate told Jaqson and his mother, Jacquie, that she had received a card and flowers from her husband that morning.

On her hand Kate wore the sapphire and diamond engagement ring given to her by William that once belonged to his late mother Diana.

The priceless ring is a constant reminder of Diana, particularly poignant today as Kate spends time with her chosen charities. It is the kind of official duty at which Diana shone, and for which Kate has already shown such a natural ability.

Her first stop was The Brink, an alcohol-free bar set up for recovering addicts that is run by Action on Addiction charity, for which Kate is a patron. The organisation helps addicts recover from drink and drug dependency.

Looking relaxed, Kate shook hands with staff and met community leaders as the bar's resident choir - made up of recovering addicts called the Raucous Caucus Recovery Chorus - serenaded her with a traditional native American Indian song titled Wings Of A Dove.

Michael Edwards, 32, from Kensington, Liverpool, and a member of the choir, said: 'It's a song about hope and happiness.

Kate is given a bouquet of roses by admirer Jaqson Johnston-Lynch, who wished her a happy Valentine's Day, telling Kate he was sorry William could not be with her

The bouquet of red flowers was the first of many gifts offered to Kate as she greeted crowds in Liverpool today

Kate arrives in Liverpool where she will visit Alder Hey children's hospital and The Brink, an alcohol-free bar as Patron of Action on Addiction

The Duchess of Cambridge tries a smoothie - with bananas, almonds, honey, milk and a dash of cream - christened the Duchess in her honour as she visited dry bar The Brink in Liverpool

'I got involved in the choir because I'm in recovery from drugs and alcohol. Doing this, it's built my confidence, it's risen up. I didn't have any before.

'It's a bit scary with a royal audience but this is what the choir has done for me, to give me the confidence to sing in front of people.

'Everybody has been excited here for weeks because of the royal visit, that something this good is happening here.'

During the visit, Kate was given a Valentine's Day gift by eight-year-old Jaqson Johnston-Lynch, who presented the Duchess with a bouquet of red roses, a cupcake and a Valentine's Day card.

Speaking shortly before Kate's arrival, he said: 'I have wrote in the card 'Dear Kate, Happy Valentine's Day, I love you, from Jaqson'.

'I'm also giving her some flowers, red roses, and little cupcake.

Jaqson, who attends St Vincent de Paul School in Liverpool, said he had a little speech prepared.

'I'm going to say 'Happy Valentine's Day, your Royal Highness. I'm sorry Prince William can't be here'.'

Later today, her Valentine's Day visit will take her to the Alder Hey Children's hospital where she is set to meet the six-year-old victim of a rare heart condition.

Aimee Haswell's mother Lisa, said that her daughter, who suffers from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, nearly died numerous times and owes her life to the skilled team at Alder Hey.

She told the Daily Telegraph: 'Aimee is our little miracle. We call her out "little star" and when we received the phone call on tuesday to say she had been nominated to greet the Duchess, words cannot describe our feelings.

'Aimee is really excited and is already rehearsing her curtsy. She couldn't wait to get to school and tell everyone the exciting news.

'Aimee deserves this more than anyone I can think of. She's a very strong, brave, happy little girl who has been through so much in her short life.'

The hospital is the busiest children's hospital in the UK, providing care for more than 200,000 children each year.

Kate and William visited the institution together in February last year, when they attended the unveiling of a new state-of-the-art MRI scanner.

It is a hospital that is also close to the heart of Coleen Rooney, who has spoken out many times in support of Alder Hey thanks to the care they offered to her sister Rosie, who suffers from rare genetic disorder Rett Syndrome.

The Duchess of Cambridge will be visiting various Liverpool charities on her trip as she spends her first Valentine's Day as a married woman more than 7,900 miles away from her husband.

As well as her visit to Alder Hey, Kate will see charitable work at the city's first adult alcohol-free bar, The Brink and to Ronald McDonald House, which provides free accommodation for families visiting sick children.

Kate is a patron of Action on Addiction together with three other charities - the National Portrait Gallery, East Anglia Children's Hospices and The Art Room.

The charity works to free people from their dependency on drink and drugs, support their families and educate professionals who give addicts help.

Apart from Liverpool, it has treatment centres in London, Dorset and Wiltshire.

The Brink is intended to provide a place for those who want to socialise without alcohol.

It also gives addicts in recovery a chance to re-enter the workforce, as three quarters of staff are recovering alcoholics or drug addicts.

The trip is one of several solo royal engagements Kate is undertaking while William is away on a six-week tour of duty in the Falkland Islands.