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Royal guest opens £1m centre to help boost cancer care

By Claire Regan

A special Royal guest was on hand yesterday to open a new £1.3m centre of excellence for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

Princess Alexandra, the Queen's cousin, was the guest of honour at the official opening of the new facility on Eglantine Avenue in Belfast.

Founding members of the charity, volunteers, cancer patients and staff were among a big crowd who welcomed her.

Arlene Spiers, chief executive of the Ulster Cancer Foundation, said she was delighted to welcome such a prestigious visitor to open the centre.

"For the last 35 years, the Ulster Cancer Foundation has provided a comprehensive range of services to reduce the impact of cancer in Northern Ireland," she said.

"This new building provides us with a state-of-the-art centre which does justice to those services, enabling us to offer much improved facilities and programmes for local people.

"We look forward to welcoming many more patients, their families and friends as we continue to produce improved outcomes for cancer patients."

The centre was funded by the Building for Life Appeal.

Ms Spiers said one of the key features of the new building is the education and training suite.

"This enables UCF to provide professional facilities for the delivery of education in both cancer care and prevention. Programmes are delivered to health professionals, patients, carers as well as the education, business and community sectors," she added.

"The new centre houses a patient and family resource centre - a welcoming haven. Patients are able to call in, have a cup of coffee and use the library facilities or have a chat with one of our specially trained counsellors."

Ms Spiers said the centre still provided services for which they were best known - including an information and support helpline, bra and swimsuit fitting service, art therapy, Beauty for Life and support groups - and was busy and full of life.

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