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The Earl of Wessex attends official opening at Arthur Rank Hospice

Author: Suzanne Stevenson
22 January 2018
  • The Earl of Wessex meets patients and staff during a visit to Arthur Rank Hospice’s Inpatient Unit. Courtesy of Keith Heppell.

Arthur Rank Hospice’s home at Shelford Bottom, Cambridgeshire, has been officially opened by His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward who enjoyed a tour of the hospice – meeting patients, volunteers and staff – before unveiling an official plaque to mark the special occasion.

The visit to the hospice coincides with the start of the Earl's Real Tennis Tour 2018, during which he has pledged to raise funds for The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, by playing tennis on every real tennis court in the world. His tour began with a visit to the Cambridge University Real Tennis Club on Grange Road, followed by a dinner at Jesus College.

Amongst the guests gathered at the hospice to meet the Earl were Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteers Alice Webb, Jodie Lawler and Morgan Larter who regularly volunteer at the hospice’s shops as part of their service to the community. Jodie said she had greatly enjoyed meeting him.

“I’ve been volunteering in the Shelford charity shop, which has been a really good experience giving back to the community and I’ve learnt lots of new skills. I’m hoping to go onto my Silver and Gold Awards next. He was really nice and interested to hear what we’ve all been doing so far.”

The Earl spoke to guests in the hospice’s bistro – who included benefactors, trustees, patrons, civic dignitaries, staff and the team responsible for building the new hospice – after being taken on a guided tour of the facility which opened its doors to patients in November 2016.

During the tour - guided by the Hospice’s CEO Dr Lynn Morgan and Director of Clinical Services Liz Webb - he took the opportunity to talk to day therapy patients.

Peter Wooding who was attending day therapy for the first time today, said:

“It was nice of them to arrange a Royal Visit on my first day! He was a very nice man – I was amazed, we sat and talked for quite some time. I was having my hands massaged and he said, ‘That looks good’ and I said ‘It is’. No airs no graces, just an interesting chap.”

The Earl also visited the hospice's inpatient Unit. Carly Love, Matron on the hospice’s Inpatient Unit added:

“No two days are ever the same here, but his visit is definitely one which will go down in the hospice’s history. It’s a real boost to know that another member of the Royal Family has seen first-hand and appreciated how important our work is on the ground in our county, as we work with individuals on such a personal level.”

The Earl’s visit is one of a string of Royal visits to the Arthur Rank Hospice: the first on the 15 October 1981 was from Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Kent, who officially opened the Arthur Rank Hospice site at Mill Road. Then, in September 2002 the Hospice was delighted to receive a visit from His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales.

Commenting on the Earl’s visit, hospice CEO Dr Lynn Morgan said:

“We are delighted that The Earl of Wessex was able to take the time to visit us today and officially open our new home, continuing a legacy of Royal recognition which has continued since Arthur Rank Hospice first came into being.”

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