New armed forces rehab centre unveiled by Duke of Cambridge
A ceremony was held to gift the £300 million Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre to the nation.
The Duke of Cambridge has praised a new £300 million armed forces trauma and rehabilitation centre during a ceremony gifting the facility to the nation.
Prince William, who was patron of the funding appeal to establish the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), attended the event along with 300 supporters, staff and dignitaries.
The centre has been purpose-built at the Stanford Hall Estate, Nottinghamshire, where it will provide world-class rehabilitation facilities for service personnel who have suffered major trauma or injury.
Its rehabilitation services are being transferred from Headley Court, Surrey, which has treated the nation’s service personnel for more than 70 years – most recently many of those veterans gravely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A national civilian facility for the NHS is also being proposed for the same site.
The DNRC was the idea of the late 6th Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor, who led the £300 million fundraising drive with a personal gift of £70 million.
Following the duke’s death in 2016, his son, the 7th Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, carried out the duty of handing over the DNRC as a gift to the nation during the ceremony, with Prime Minister Theresa May accepting it on the UK’s behalf.
She called it “an extraordinary gift” and spoke of Stanford Hall Estate providing “the next generation of rehabilitative care”.
William paid tribute to the fundraising and support which had made the centre a reality, addressing a crowd which included the Crown Prince of Bahrain, the Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nicholas Carter and historian Dan Snow.
The prince said: “I have seen the growth of an idea transfer into what we see today – and it is a rare and immensely satisfying thing to have witnessed.”
He also spoke of getting hands-on with some of the construction, demolishing a building in front of his son.
William added: “George was at an age at the time that he loved seeing the digger in action, so it did my street cred as a father the world of good.”
But reflecting on those who would be directly benefiting from the centre’s impressive-looking treatment buildings, the prince said: “At every stage, I have been inspired by people who have triumphed in adversity after some very serious wounding.”
Speaking of the ongoing work to bring civilian NHS treatment work on-site, he added: “The opportunity to extend to civilians what has been done on the defence side of the rehabilitation estate is central to what Gerald Westminster set out to achieve – he told me that he viewed it as the ‘big prize’.
“I should, along with many others here today, very much like to see that opportunity come to pass.
“To that end, it is heartening that the latest ambassador for the DNRC is a civilian, Billy Monger, who as many of you will know has returned to motor racing after a very serious accident.”
William then read the winning entry of the DNRC’s A Poem to Remember national competition, entitled One For The Team, penned by A&E nurse Debbie Lawson.
After speeches, the prince unveiled a statue of Major General Sir Robert Jones, acknowledged as the founder of modern orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation.
He then met some of those involved in building the DNRC.
The prince also chatted with the current commanding officer of Headley Court, Group Captain Teresa Griffiths, who will be overseeing work at the new site.
She said the first patient was expected in early September, though both sites will be running until December.
Surgeon Commodore Andrew Hughes, the Ministry of Defence’s project director, described the centre as “fantastic” and the rightful spiritual successor to Headley Court.
“We have a fresh start here to take us on for the next 50 years,” he said.
The event was also attended by donors and supporters, members of the Grosvenor family, representatives from the Midlands and local health authorities, and the builders.