The Countess of Wessex arrived at 10.30am and was greeted by Mrs Jacqueline Swift, Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset, who presented her to Lord Lieutenant Cadet, Sergeant Evie Irving, The Mayor and Mayoress of Poole, Councillor Phillip Eades and Helen Eades, The Sheriff of Poole, Councillor Peter Adams and Robert Syms, MP for Poole, as well as Paul Crompton, Chairman of Lewis Manning Hospice, and Chief Executive of Lewis Manning Hospice, Elizabeth Purcell.
The Countess was then given a tour by Elizabeth Purcell of the new state-of-the-art facility that was completed in 2012 and supports over 650 local people a year living with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses. Patients, staff, volunteers and supporters welcomed the Countess who spent over an hour chatting with staff and patients in the hospice’s Lymphoedema, Breathlessness and Physiotherapy Clinics, as well as in the Day Hospice, where she was presented with three handmade felt New Forest toy ponies made by the creative art group to take home for her children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
The Countess then had the opportunity to view the new bedded in-patient unit, which comprises of individual en-suite bedrooms all with their own private terrace, to meet four patients, as well as the hospice’s Complementary Therapist, who was giving a foot massage demonstration. The Countess then was introduced to invited guests before going outside on to the grounds that overlook Poole Harbour to unveil a commemorative plaque to mark the special occasion. Following a welcome introduction from Paul Crompton, Chairman of Lewis Manning Hospice, the Countess spoke of how hospice visits are “one of the most worthy and uplifting things that I love to do” and how it was a “distinct privilege” and “truly an honour” to meet all the people that care and volunteer. She then went on to praise everyone that had fundraised for the charity, remarking that it’s “an undertaking that is not easy.”
Before leaving the Countess signed the hospice Guest Book and then shared a joke with patient Maurice Ward, 89, who presented her with a posy, before thanking everyone as she left to continue her Royal duties in Dorset.
Elizabeth Purcell, CEO of Lewis-Manning Hospice, said, “The opening represents a great milestone in Lewis-Manning’s history as it marks the achievement of completing the building and fit out and bringing the vision to life. Ultimately our plan is to be open 24/7 and we are growing towards that in a managed way through increased activities and services, courses and extended care arrangements.
We have courses running in May, June and September and are offering long respite days using the bedrooms from May. Through our recruitment process we have identified a team of nursing staff who can be drawn upon as we grow the services.
These are exciting times but they need very careful handling to ensure we get things absolutely right. We have made a great start but there is much to do and we need the on-going support from the whole community to achieve it.”