Lift off for James Paget Palliative Care centre

NEARLY five years ago, the Palliative Care East appeal was launched with an auction of helicopter flights to raise money for a new centre for the terminally ill at the James Paget University Hospital.

And yesterday the centre was given formal clearance for take-off when the fundraising team behind the project announced building work will begin on the new state-of-the-art �1.5m centre in the hospital’s grounds in February.

John Hemming, the hospital’s chairman, gave an illustrated talk about the facilities at the new centre, which will built at the Brasenose Avenue end of the hospital site.

The interior decor will feature lighter colours, including shades of yellow, to give a relaxed feel to the centre and there will be more than 10 rooms where people can receive help and advice on their conditions.

The emphasis will be on using natural light, with lots of windows, and heat pumps will be used to keep the building warm in winter.

A number of donors who have supported the appeal will have their names on the rooms, while others have paid for a butterfly to form part of a design on one of the centre’s walls.

The aim of the centre is to provide first class care, therapies and advice in a purpose-built environment, as well as pain management and relief and emotional, spiritual and practical support.

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However, no additional beds will be provided – the centre will have a much broader scope to offer palliative care in its many forms based on a “hub and spoke” model where the centre staff will advise people on where they can seek help in their locality.

A number of front-of-house staff will be recruited to advise visitors of the best places they can go to for help or treatment, including partner charities such as Big C, Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney and St Elizabeth Hospice.

He said: “I am thrilled to be able to announce this news today.

“The new resource centre will provide support to all those people with a terminal illness in Great Yarmouth and Waveney and their carers and families.”

So far, the appeal has raised �1.3m thanks to the generosity of hundreds of people, including friends, neighbours, social groups, clubs and societies who have chipped in by organising fundraising events.

Many have created personal gifts in memory of a loved one and in May 50 women raised �74,000 by climbing Ben Nevis.

One of the main exhibits at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show will be the focal point for the centre’s garden.

The Homebase Cornish Memories Garden, designed by Thomas Hoblyn from Bury St Edmunds, includes a water feature and striking circular pavilion which will be incorporated into the final design.

Appeal co-ordinator Jenny Watson said: “I’m personally delighted with the news that a little bit of Chelsea is coming to Gorleston to be admired, not only by patients and their families, but also the community at large.

“It is a wonderful gift that we have received and the timing is very fitting after all the achievements of Carla’s Angels and the girls of Ben Nevis to raise money for the garden.

“Through these amazing efforts �74,000 has been raised. My thanks go to all our fantastic fundraisers who have brought us to this landmark stage.”

Statistics show on average 2,700 people die each year across Great Yarmouth and Waveney and of those about 1,900 had a chronic illness, such as cancer, needing palliative care.

The aim is to have the centre and garden completed by December next year.