A huge heartfelt thank you as new hospice opens its doors for a peek

Viewing of the new premises at the Thorpe Hall hospice for Sue Ryder. Pictured is hospice director Jane Petit EMN-150206-143904009
Viewing of the new premises at the Thorpe Hall hospice for Sue Ryder. Pictured is hospice director Jane Petit EMN-150206-143904009

The doors of the new Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice have been opened for the first glimpse inside.

A decade of planning, two years of fundraising and 37 weeks of building work came to fruition on Tuesday when the media were given a sneak preview of the new state-of-the art building, which will be home to patients from the beginning of next month.

The new light, airy and colourful building is linked to the Grade I mansion house, which has been home to thousands of patients over 20 years, by a modern glass walkway.

The building has 20 en-suite bedrooms on a ground floor based on seasonal themes and all spanning a central atrium, which houses a refreshments bar and an area for staff.

There are also three interlocking rooms and a sanctuary, as well as space for a children’s playarea so patients can enjoy seeing their younger relatives having fun.

Each of the rooms has features designed to make patients’ time there more comfortable, including a televisions with USB ports to play photographs and the ability to Skype, drug cabinets in bedrooms so drugs can be administered more quickly, a mini fridge, ambient lighting and access to WiFi.

One of the most impressive features is that all of the bedrooms have doors to one of the five new beautiful gardens.

On the corridor walls are photographs of features of the mansion house, bringing old into the new. One particularly striking image is a view from one of the second floor windows.

The new building is single storey so it doesn’t impose on the west wing of the mansion house and it has a sedum roof with low-growing plants.

There are many environmentally friendly features, including a ground source heat pump and LED lighting, which will ensure energy bills are reduced considerably.

The building is not just better for patients - the staff will also benefit from a large clinical room, bigger patient rooms so beds can be moved, and storage space.

And all of this was possible because of the huge fundraising effort from people across the region, including readers - the efforts of which have been featured since the appeal was launched in April 2013.

So far, £4.02m of the £6m needed has been raised.

Hospice director Jane Petit was closely involved with the plans and has monitored the progress during the building.

But she said she felt a real sense of achievement and pride when her staff and volunteers were allowed in last week.

Jane said: “It was just so amazing to see how positive they were about what we have tried to achieve here for the patients of Peterborough and the surrounding area.”

Her message to everyone who has so far supported the appeal was: “It’s simply thank you. I hope they can be proud when they get the chance to see what they have built.

“It truly is an amazing achievement.”

One of the main differences between the old building and the new is that patients will have their own rooms and that beds can be wheeled to the bathrooms, meaning it is a more dignified experience for patients.

There are two bathrooms featuring jacuzzi baths with the ability to play music and hoists, as well as a third bathroom mirroring one that you’d find in a typical home so patients can try it out with any adaptations they might need before they go home.

The whole building feels light, with skylights that can open in the corridors and in the north-facing bedrooms.

Peter Gorton, 71, is currently a patient in the mansion house and suffers from a lung condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. His wife Doreen was also cared for at Thorpe Hall before she died last May from lung cancer.

Peter is hoping to go home but when the time comes, he will return to the new hospice building to spend his last days.

He said: “I cannot fault Thorpe Hall. If you’re going to be somewhere like this, there is no better place. The support I have been given is fantastic and in the new building, the facilities are even better.

“When my wife was here, she knew the end was coming and it was a very sad time but it was just a nice place to be and I want to die here as well.”

The 17th century mansion house will still be used by office staff and as the base for new services, including befriending and hospice at home which will launch in September and see Sue Ryder working in the community. It is also home to the Peterborough branch of Headway and the Carers Trust.

Plans to increase the use of the mansion’s ground floor as a community hub are also being explored.

Head of fundraising Lucy Squance said the final funds will be used for “finishing touches” but she said supporters had already made a “real difference”.

She added: “We are all so proud of the end result and I want to say a huge heartfelt thank you for every pound, for every event and for every effort that’s been done so far.

“But we do still need you so please come to one of our open days and please let us show you what we still need.”

The open days for people to get a look at the new hospice for themselves, will be held on:

l June 11: 5pm - 8pm.

l June 16: 5pm - 8pm.

l June 20: 10am - 4pm.

l June 21: 10am - 4pm.

l June 25: 5pm - 8pm.

To find out how you can get involved with the final fundraising push, visit www.thorpehall.org