Campaigners get first look inside Gorleston’s Louise Hamilton Centre

Supporters of a long running campaign to provide a much-needed care centre for people suffering from incurable illnesses were given a sneak peek around the state of the art facility they have been tirelessly fundraising for.

Campaigners and patrons gathered at the Louise Hamilton Centre to look inside the distinctive yellow building as it continues to take shape within the grounds of the James Paget Hospital.

Work on the �1.5m building began in March and is expected to be completed by Christmas, with the centre opening to patients in the new year.

Funding has been raised through the Palliative Care East appeal, which launched in 2006.

Groups, individuals, schools and clubs from across the area have donated towards the centre and the impending opening is creating a buzz amongst campaigners.

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Among those to get an early view of its unique surroundings yesterday (Friday) was Roberta Lovick who helped spearhead the project from the beginning. The centre is named after her daughter who died aged 28 after battling breast cancer.

While Louise was living with her cancer, she received great support from a cancer help centre in Bristol.

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Inspired by this Mrs Lovick, 60, from Potter Heigham, began the appeal to build a similar centre for people in Great Yarmouth and Waveney. And after looking around the building she said campaigners' collective dream had 'come to fruition'.

'The building itself is amazing, it's done Louise proud,' she added. 'The excitement for me will be when the door opens for patients and carers.

'It's been made possible by the people and I think it's a centre for the people where they can feel safe.'

Once opened the facility will provide information, advice and support for people suffering from cancer and incurable illnesses - and their carers - from the point of diagnosis, right up to end of life care.

It will also offer complimentary therapies, bereavement support, family counselling and welfare advice amongst other services, and signpost people to other groups if they need more specific help.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy a large sheltered garden at the centre of the building, which has been designed to look like an upturned boat as a nod to its seaside setting and to represent an 'ark' as a place of refuge.

Therapy rooms inside the centre - which is expected to support 10,000 a year - have been named after sponsors and a butterfly mosaic will feature the names of individuals, groups and clubs that have raised more than �2,000 for the appeal.

Jenny Watson, appeal coordinator, said: 'Thousands of people have put time, effort and commitment into this. We're not the biggest area so I think the local community has done a fantastic job in hard times.

'We have a great hospital, but it's a very acute, busy hospital so we need a place of tranquillity and calm and space and that's what we can give.'

? Apprentices at the Paget are walking 10km in their pyjamas in aid of the appeal.

The team is aiming to raise �2,000 and will be setting off from the hospital at 11am on Friday, October 5 on a round route that will take in Gorleston seafront.

To sponsor them, call Jill on 01493 453070.

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