Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester visited St Elizabeth Hospice to officially open their newly refurbished Day Centre.
When she arrived at the Hospice in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, she was met by the Hospice’s Chairman, William Barnes, Acting Chief Executive, Mark Millar, Director of Patient Services, Verity Jolly, Mayor of Ipswich, Councillor Glen Chisholm, Chief Executive of Ipswich Borough Council, Russell Williams, Deputy Lieutenant, Sam Wilson, and the Chairman of Suffolk County Council, Councillor Jane Storey.
The Duchess was given a tour of the Day Centre by Mr Barnes and Mrs Jolly, who has worked at the Hospice since it opened in 1989. The tour included a look at the new facilities which include a Sensory Room, superb Therapy Gym and an Atrium, which is the hub of the Day Centre.
Her Royal Highness was introduced to patient Ian Ewers-Larose, who was enjoying a treatment in the complementary therapy suite and young adult patient, Ben Plant, who was being shown the new sensory equipment.
The Duchess ended her tour in the Atrium, where she spoke to a group of day care patients enjoying the ‘Creating Memories’ group where they were learning how to turn boxes of photos and memorabilia into safe, meaningful and creative keepsake albums.
She unveiled a plaque commemorating the opening of the Day Centre and declared it officially open to Hospice staff, volunteers and patients.
Mr Barnes said: “We were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester to the Hospice to officially open our wonderful new Day Centre.
“One of our young patients, Ben, was over the moon to be able to meet the Duchess as he is a huge supporter of the royal family. At the same time, we were able to demonstrate to Her Royal Highness our new young adult service and show off our fantastic sensory room.”
Ben Plant, 20, of Rendlesham, said: “I was star struck meeting the Duchess of Gloucester. It’s something I have always wanted to do and dreamed of doing.
“I have had an interest in the Royal family since the Golden Jubilee so I was very excited to be asked to come and meet her and present her with the posy today.
“I have been a patient at the Hospice for about a year. The Hospice is really good, and as the Duchess said in her unveiling speech, I hope many more people continue to use the new Day Centre for years to come.”
Patient, Maureen Kemp, of Stowmarket, was excited to meet Her Royal Highness and even came to the Hospice the day before the visit to have her hair done by a hairdressing volunteer in the Hospice’s salon. She said: “It was nice to be asked to come in and meet her.
“The Duchess was so sweet and was very interested in everything I told her, especially when I explained how I’m learning to write with my other hand – and she was reading what I’d written.”
St Elizabeth Hospice invested £1.6million to extend and refurbish its Day Centre after receiving a grant of £678,482 from the Department of Health in 2013. After a year building and decorating, patients, staff and volunteers were finally able to move into the new facility in November 2014, coinciding with the Hospice’s 25th Anniversary.
Patients attend Day Care at the Hospice to receive specific care and support including nursing care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, a range of complementary therapies, emotional wellbeing and spiritual support.
Mr Barnes added: “The new Day Centre was designed to be a welcoming and calming environment for patients and families.
“Last year we cared for around 250 patients in our Day Centre and the extension now means we are able to accommodate the growing number of patients needing and wanting to access our day services.”
St Elizabeth Hospice improves life for people living with a progressive illness in East Suffolk and South Norfolk.
It provides its services free of charge wherever they are required, whether at home, in the community or at the Hospice.