THE Duchess of York showed off her inner child and made many new friends of all ages when she visited Julia's House in Devizes on Tuesday.

Fergie set the tone for her visit when she she shared a joke with four-year-old Lois Dix, from Corsham, whose elder sister Ella, nine, is supported by the hospice.

As soon as she stepped out of her car at the entrance to the hospice which opened last year she knelt down to Lois' level and gave her a hug.

She asked a slightly bewildered Lois what you call a camel with three humps and got a big laugh when she told her the answer was Humphrey.

Once inside the former wife of Prince Andrew and mother to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, was befriended Carmela Chillery-Watson, four, dressed in a Halloween costume.

She led the Duchess through the throng telling her she needed to come and see the cakes.

Once at the table Carmela from Market Lavington, near Devizes, who has a progressive muscle wasting disease called L-CMD, made sure she sat at Fergie's side and directed the cake decorating.

Carmela's mum Lucy said: "She has been very excited about meeting the Duchess. She loves being the centre of attention."

The Duchess was full of praise for the work of the hospice and urged people from all over Wiltshire to visit and pledge to help. She said that she loved meeting children as although she was 59 inside she was still only eight.

The author of children's stories said she would love to stay involved with the charity and even promised to write a book based on a character called Julia and the teddy bear logo of the hospice.

She praised Gazette readers, who in 2016 raised £100,000 for the hospice, and said: "I think the Gazette readers are amazing to have raised that amount. It means everything to bring a smile to a child. Julia's House is a perfect place.

Julia's House chief executive Martin Edwards revealed that he met the Duchess in a lift during a fundraising event in London and had just seconds to tell her about the work of Julia's House. He obviously did a good job as she said she wanted to find out more and just weeks later offered to visit.

On Tuesday the Duchess joined in one of the hospice's regular housemates sessions which give families supported by the hospice to meet up and then she read an extract from one of her Budgie the Little Helicopter. For royal watchers who believe she and her husband may be planning to get back together she was at pains to point out a picture in the book of Westminster Abbey and said: "Where we got married."

She later pointed to another illustration showing a back view of her and Prince Andrew standing side by side.

At the end of the reading session she handed out little bracelets to the children and other visitors.

The Duchess said she felt able to empathise with parents of children using Julia's House as her own daughter Beatrice suffers from dyslexia and Eugenie had major spine surgery to correct scoliosis. She said: "As a mother I really feel I can identify with the mums here. To me the most important thing I have done is being a good mother."