Work set to start at new Thames Hospice site

David Lee

A charity’s dream of building a new multi-million pound hospice is set to move a step closer when work begins next week.

Contractors will start laying the ground work for Thames Hospice’s £18.6million centre by Bray Lake on Monday. The project, which is expected to take 18 months, will replace the charity’s hospice in Hatch Lane, Windsor.

Once completed, the centre will offer therapeutic and social activities for day patients and in-patients, private bedrooms for every patient and a sanctuary for quiet reflection.

Thames Hospice chief executive Debbie Raven said: “The facilities in our current hospice (in Hatch Lane) are wonderful but they are looking dated now.

“For example, we have two four-bed bays here. In our new hospice it will be all single rooms because people need and deserve dignity and peace at the end of their lives and that’s what we are here to provide.”

Thames Hospice has used £12m of its cash reserves and £3m of fundraising to pay for its new facility.

This has included a £116,000 donation from the Express’s owner, the Louis Baylis Trust, which helped pay for a physiotherapy suite.

But the charity still needs £3m to reach its target, and has a big fundraising push planned for 2019.

Speaking before the new year, Mrs Raven said the whole community was going to be asked to get involved.

“Anybody who is out there thinking they want to do something for charity next year, please make sure that it’s us,” she said.

Initial work on the site will see contractor Andrew Scott Ltd build a new site access in Windsor Road.

Initial drainage work is due to start by the end of the month.

Mrs Raven said she hoped the public would be understanding of the disruption caused during the construction period.

She said: “We really want to be as unobtrusive as we possibly can while accepting that we are building a big project.

“At the end of the day we have to keep our eye on the goal and the goal is to have a fabulous larger hospice for our community which will meet their needs, not just now but 20 years in the future.”

The scheme has had its opponents, including Bray Parish Council, which is concerned about additional traffic, particularly on the narrowest point of Windsor Road.

Cllr Ken Elvin said: “It’s not the construction that’s the problem, the problem will be when the hospice is in full operation.”

He added the parish council is not against the hospice but feels it is moving to the wrong location.

But Mrs Raven said the required traffic surveys undertaken as part of the planning process had shown ‘minimal traffic increases’.

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