It was a day to remember for staff, patients and volunteers at St Wilfrid’s Hospice as the charity’s new centre was officially opened with a royal visit on Wednesday morning (March 26).
After enjoying a 40-minute tour of the state-of-the-art facilities, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, unveiled the plaque that declared the £11million centre officially open after months of waiting.
Dressed in a long, brown coat adorned with a sparkling silver turtle broach, Her Royal Highness was greeted at the entrance by a number of key figures in the town, including Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd and the Mayor of Eastbourne Cllr Mike Thompson.
She then shook hands with St Wilfrid’s patrons David Dimbleby and the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire before meeting Arnold Simanowitz and Kara Bishop - Chairman and Chief Executive of St Wilfrid’s Hospice respectively.
The widely-anticipated opening went without a hitch. With the melodious soundtrack of the Eastbourne College choir ringing in the background, Camilla walked around the new centre, chatting to every patient, staff member or volunteer she encountered.
Val Herlihy was lifting weights in the brand new gym when Camilla came in. Val said, “She was absolutely lovely - a lot nicer than I expected!
“She seemed to take a real interest and asked lots of questions about what I was doing. She even started lifting my weight to see how heavy it was.”
That opinion was echoed throughout the hospice as Camilla visited the physiotherapists and patients’ bedrooms.
Ray and Lyn Boylan, who celebrated getting married to each other for the second time on Thursday, told the Duchess their magical story, to which she replied, “Oh, I wish I’d have known, I’d have bought along some flowers!”
Just before she left the hospice, Camilla made a short speech to the many people who had come to the hospice to celebrate its opening. She said, “As someone from Sussex, it is always a real treat to come back here again and especially to see this wonderful hospice. I’d just like to congratulate everybody who’s involved. I think it’s the most wonderful place. It’s got this welcoming, uplifting feeling which is what all hospices should have.”