Gallery: Duchess of Gloucester opens St Elizabeth Hospice’s newly refurbished £1.6million day centre

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester visits St Elizabeth Hospice to officially open their ne

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester visits St Elizabeth Hospice to officially open their newly refurbished Day Unit. Pictured with young adult group member Ben Plant ( right) and brother Rub�n

A royal visitor was proudly welcomed to St Elizabeth Hospice today as she officially opened its newly refurbished day centre.

The Duchess of Gloucester unveiled a plaque at the hospice in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, which has benefitted from a £1.6million extension.

Young adult hospice patient and passionate royal fan, Ben Plant, of Rendlesham, was invited to meet the Duchess along with his brother, Ruben, and present her with bouquet of flowers.

The 20-year-old, who suffers from cerebral palsy and auto-immune disease, eosinophilic enterocolitis, said: “I was starstruck meeting the Duchess. 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.”

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The Duchess was given a tour of the day centre by hospice chairman, William Barnes, and director of patient services, Verity 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, therapy gym and the hub of the day centre, the Atrium.

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Hospice patient Maureen Kemp, of Stowmarket, made sure she was looking her best for the regal visitor with a trip to the hospice’s salon on Tuesday, 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.”

Among the line of dignitaries greeting the Duchess was newly elected Ipswich mayor, Glen Chisholm, who shook the Duchess’ hand along with Mr Barnes, Mrs Jolly, acting chief executive Mark Millar, chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council Russell Williams, deputy lieutenant Sam Wilson and county council chairman Jane Storey.

Mr Chisholm said: “It’s amazing the work they do at the hospice not just today but in the community giving people dignity during a difficult time in their lives and I’m honoured to be a part of that.”

St Elizabeth Hospice invested £1.6m to extend and refurbish its day centre after receiving a grant of £678,482 from the Department of Health in 2013. After a year of building and decorating, patients, staff and volunteers were 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.

The Duchess also unveiled a special commemorative plaque in Woodbridge today in celebration of 500 years since the birth of the town’s famous benefactor, Thomas Seckford, in 1515.

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