Francesca Fattore, 44, was given a boost behind bars at HMP Send in Surrey when the Princess of Wales heard her story, and has now sent Kate her own message of love

The Princess of Wales has received a touching message of support as she battles cancer – from an ex-prisoner she inspired to leave a life of crime.

Francesca Fattore, 44, who credits Kate for helping her get back on track and now campaigns for female inmates, said: “I’m sending you so much love – please keep fighting. And always remember: You haven’t got to live with cancer, cancer has to live with you – and you won’t let it beat you.”

Fran was given a boost behind bars by Kate, who took time to hear her story during a visit to HMP Send in Surrey. She was selected for the royal meeting after passing a 12-week rehab programme with flying colours. On sharing a sofa with the Princess, Fran said: “I was extremely nervous but she immediately made me feel relaxed, she was just so genuine and sincere. Nothing was false about her – I could tell she genuinely wanted to hear my story and really cared about what I had to say.

“Having the privilege to sit with her inspired me to keep going and made me realise I was on the right path. She made me feel worthy and the experience left me on cloud nine. The video was also posted on the Kensington Royal social media accounts and I was the talk of the prison for weeks which was a really nice feeling.”

Kate, 42, was hailed for helping fellow sufferers feel less alone after bravely going public with her cancer diagnosis a fortnight ago. The mum-of-three’s bombshell announcement followed weeks of wild speculation about her health. Fran, who is currently nursing her 72-year-old mum Janet through the disease, knows all too well how painful it can be.

She added: “It’s devastating, shocking and leaves you feeling completely powerless. Kate’s diagnosis really touched me, especially with everything my mum is going through. I was absolutely gutted for her because she is such a genuine, lovely and caring person – It could happen to anyone, so why her? Mum couldn’t believe it either, she was so sad for her and said she understood how she must be feeling.”

Fran Fattore
Fran Fattore has sent a message to the princess
The pair clicked during an official visit to the women’s closed category jail in 2020 – when Fran was serving part of a three-year sentence for drug offences. Four years on, she has transformed her life and now supports scores of other female lags through her YouTube channel, UK Ex Female Prisoner.

The videos, which she juggles alongside a full-time job as a car firm branch manager, feature practical advice about jail and interviews with ex-cons about life locked up. She recently teamed up with a former prison mental health specialist to launch a safe-space Facebook group for female lags.

The online community offers a non-judgemental outlet and practical support with everything from housing to gambling addiction and general mental health issues. A frustration at the lack of support available to women before, during and after prison pushed the duo to take action.

Fran said: “These women are going in for short sentences which is absolutely absurd because they’re losing their homes, their kids and they get stuck in the revolving door of prison and re-offending. It breaks my heart and our goal is to end that cycle and provide better solutions for women.”

Princess of Wales
Kate’s visit to the prison helped turn Fran’s life around .
Getty Images)

Fran, who lives in Reading, knew she wanted to do her bit after training as a listener with the Samaritans during her time inside and later becoming a supporter for prisoners with addiction issues. She said: “I loved the support work in prison – I enjoyed helping other people and found it so rewarding. Once a girl leaving gave me a hug and said: ‘I’ll never forget you’ – that stayed with me and is why I have made it my mission to support women so they don’t feel alone.”

The duo have plans to turn the initiative into a charity to help financially support women left homeless after prison. They hope to launch a buddy system linking reformed ex-prisoners with vulnerable women newly released from jail. Three years free and clear of her drug habit, Fran says meeting Kate gave her the final needed push to turn her life around. She added: “I never ever thought I’d be where I am now, I never believed I could change and thought that that life was it for me. I owe it all to prison and meeting Kate – and this is just the start for me.”

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