Hospice staff ‘delighted’ by visit from Princess to open new £6.5 million education centre

Hospice staff ‘delighted’ after a visit from a Royal Princess at the opening of a new £6.5 million education centre.

St Christopher’s Hospice, in Sydenham, welcomed its Royal Patron, HRH Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, to its brand-new Centre for Awareness and Response at End of Life (known as St Christopher’s CARE) yesterday.

The Princess joined trustees, supporters and donors to unveil a plaque on the roof terrace of the Centre.

Her Royal Highness also revealed a sculpture tribute in the grounds, dedicated to the numerous donors who have contributed to the project.

Giving a short impromptu speech at the end of the day, Princess Alexandra said: “Thank you to everyone for inviting me to share in such a special day, and congratulations to the team at St Christopher’s and all of the generous sponsors and partners who made this astonishing building possible. It is a true pleasure to be here with you all to see it open.”

St Christopher’s CARE is a £6.5 million state-of-the-art education centre and a space for people locally, nationally and internationally to explore, discuss and improve experiences associated with living, dying and end of life care.

Designed by MillsPower Architecture, the centre is set in the beautiful landscaped grounds of St Christopher’s Hospice and comprises of a sustainable three-storey community building, housing a number of flexible learning spaces such as a lecture theatre, library, skills lab, digital support area, various meeting rooms and a roof-top garden.

During her visit yesterday, Her Royal Highness met with various groups and individuals who have played a role in the new centre.

Staff and volunteers also showed the Princess their achievements, projects and plans throughout the past, present and future; including an introduction to the Lantern Model of nursing, an overview of various child and adult bereavement services, a brief insight into various community and care home outreach programmes, and St Christopher’s tailored clinical approach to palliative care, dementia and frailty.

Neil Goulden, Chair of Trustees at St Christopher’s, said: “Thank you, everyone, for helping to create this centre, which means a lot to us all. And thank you especially to Princess Alexandra, who has always been such a wonderful advocate for St Christopher’s.”

Before Her Royal Highness departed, she was presented with a posy of flowers by long-term St Christopher’s supporter and local resident Eileen Taylor and a cake baked by volunteer Mia Peilow which was later cut for guests to take home after a glass of celebratory prosecco.

Going forward, St Christopher’s CARE will offer both practical and academic support and guidance to people from all walks of life; from patients and their family and friends to carers and health and social workers from multi-disciplinary teams.

Through a combination of courses, workshops, regular training initiatives and webinars, the centre will be a place to share and grow knowledge, support and skills and a peaceful, inspiring and accessible space for those who may simply wish to spend quality time alone or with loved ones in contemplation.

St Christopher’s will be continuing their grand opening plans for CARE over the next couple of days, hosting health and social care professionals today and welcoming the general public on Saturday, September 25.

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