The Prince looked relaxed, joking and laughing with the seriously ill award-winning youngsters including Alex, in remission from acute leukaemia, who at one point put his soft-toy penguin on the Prince’s forehead.
Harry is patron of WellChild, a UK-based charity dedicated to the needs of sick children and their families, whose children’s nurses provide specialist medical care and direct support in the home for chronically ill youngsters.
The Prince proved a big draw with one of the award winners, Hope Hillis, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, who gave the Prince a “cow lick” as a sign of her affection.
The youngster has endured more than 50 operations for various conditions after she was born three months premature and suffered a bleed on the brain.
The five-year-old licked the right side of Prince Harry’s cheek which made him laugh and he joked: “We’ve only just met.”
When she repeated it a few minutes later The Prince put his hand up to his face in mock horror.
Sarah Hillis, 32 – the mother of Hope, who received the Inspirational Child award for girls aged three-to-six from the royal, said: "We’ve been saying to her for ages, ‘when you meet Harry what are you going to do?’, and she said, ’I’m going to lick him’.
“That’s a great compliment from Hope, a lick on the side of the face, that’s better then a kiss.”
Amongst the celebrity guests who presented prizes were Jeff Banks, Nancy Dell’Olio and Janet Ellis.
Prince Harry in his speech told the guests: "It is difficult to imagine a finer, more inspirational group of people than is gathered here tonight. It happens to me every year. I come along to the WellChild Awards knowing that I will meet old friends and make new ones. And every time, I am totally unprepared for the extraordinary reality of what greets me. At the end of the evening, I leave a very humble man.
“All of you – children, families, nurses, doctors, carers, volunteers – are, quite frankly, too remarkable for me adequately to describe with mere words. But never one to be shy in coming forward, I’ll give it a go. You’re fun, brave, inspirational, dedicated, professional, magnificent…oh, and fun again. It may seem an odd thing to say after the patriotic euphoria of the Olympics and Paralympics, but I think you represent the very best of Britain. Your spirit triumphs through adversity, and makes our every day worries seem very very insignificant. It is the example that you set us, that makes me so proud to be the Patron of WellChild.
“The charity is committed to helping the most seriously ill children and young people. Through its brilliant staff it ensures every child it looks after receives treatment and care unsurpassed anywhere in the world. WellChild, as an institution, is also something of which this Country can be truly proud.
“It just remains for me to congratulate all our winners tonight, and to thank WellChild’s supporters for the critical difference you make to so many young lives. Please, help us to continue and expand WellChild’s great work.”