The Duchess of Gloucester officially opened the newly refurbished day centre at the St Elizabeth Hospice in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, on Wednesday.
The Duchess, who is married to The Queen’s cousin Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was greeted by a number of dignitaries, including Ipswich mayor, Glen Chisholm; acting Chief Executive, Mark Millar; Chief Executive of Ipswich Borough Council, Russell Williams; Deputy Lieutenant, Sam Wilson; county council Chairman, Jane Storey; hospice Chairman, William Barnes; and director of patient services, Verity Jolly.
20 year-old Ben Plant, a hospice patient who suffers from cerebral palsy and auto-immune disease, eosinophilic
enterocolitis, was invited to meet the royal visitor and present her with a bouquet of flowers. “I was starstruck meeting the Duchess. It’s something I have always wanted to do and dreamed of doing,” Ben said. “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.”
Maureen Kemp, another patient at the St Elizabeth Hospice, also had a chance to talk to the Duchess. “It was nice to be asked to come in and meet her,” she said. “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.”
Afterwards, The Duchess was given a tour of the day centre by Mr Barnes and Mrs Jolly, who showed her around the sensory room, therapy gym, and the Atrium, which is the hub of activities at the day centre. St Elizabeth Hospice invested £1.6 million in the refurbishment and extension of the day centre, and after over a year of construction, patients were able to move into the new centre in November 2014.
Since 1989, St Elizabeth Hospice has been providing palliative care to people living with progressive illness. An independent charity, the hospice provides this care free of charge, and relies on the support of volunteers and donations. The day centre is used for patients who require specific care, such as nursing care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, emotional wellbein or spiritual support.
“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,” Mr Chisholm said.