WIGAN was up standing for royalty as Prince Edward officially opened the hospice’s new multi-million pound extension.
The Earl of Wessex visited Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WALH) to look around the Hindley-based charity’s £1.5m Woodview Centre and unveil a plaque opening the building.
The extension provides a base for the Hospice in Your Home service and specialist nurses as well as therapy rooms and clinic facilities, while also providing a huge landscaped area with wheelchair-friendly paths leading around a feature lake.
The youngest son of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh was excitedly greeted on arrival by Union and St George’s Cross flag-waving pupils from three local primary schools before being shown around the new facilities, meeting staff, volunteers, patients and their families and signing the visitors’ book. The hospice’s team was keen to show Prince Edward how Wiganers with life-limiting illnesses are cared for, while the royal visitor was clearly impressed with the hospice’s community ethos and state-of-the-art set-up.
Complementary therapist Jill Lyon, who spoke to the Earl with one of her patients, said: “I think the visit is so positive for the hospice.
“One of my patients met the Earl with me and she has been talking about it for weeks. I was quite nervous but she couldn’t wait to talk about the hospice and tell him what we do here.
“It’s quite something to have this recognition and to be able to show off our new therapy rooms to the Earl.”
For hospice nurse specialist Bernie Unsworth the royal visit formed a double cause for celebration as it fell on her birthday.
She said: “It was a really nice birthday present to meet the Earl. I hope he thinks the Woodview Centre is as amazing as we think it is.
“Patients who have been over for treatment have said how brilliant it feels to come to this building.
“People can have the impression that a hospice is a frightening place I think this building in such beautiful surroundings will make a huge difference.”
As well as seeing the state-of-the-art palliative care provided by WALH, Prince Edward also met some of the army of volunteers which provides much of the £7,400 the hospice needs to find every day through fund-raising and a network of charity shops.
Retail assistant Barbara Holme said: “Our volunteers are delighted and feel it’s an honour to come along and represent the hospice as part of the visit.
“We are all really proud of the new building and this service we are providing for the local community, and it was fantastic to show it off to the Earl.”
The visit to WALH was Prince Edward’s second trip to Wigan in less than 12 months, as he opened the town’s University Technical College (UTC) last year.