Pioneering health centre has grass roof

STEPHEN PULLINGER It is a world away from the type of austere, uninspiring building you would normally associate with a hospital.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

It is a world away from the type of austere, uninspiring building you would normally associate with a hospital.

However, this striking modern design - incorporating an eco-friendly grass roof - is the vision for a pioneering palliative care centre that will be a first for the region.

The light and airy building is the creation of Norwich and London-based LSI Architects, which won a competition, involving 13 other local architects, to develop a design for the centre planned for the grounds of Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital (JPH).

JPH Trust chairman John Hemming said: “We wanted a design that was bold and made a statement that palliative care is an important part of what we do.

“Our aim was to create a calm and comforting environment with lots of interior and exterior space. The inner and outer gardens are an important part of the design.”

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The judging panel included volunteers, medical professionals and a Royal Institute of British Architects' nominated architect.

The £1.5m appeal for the centre, which will cater for the 220,000 people living in Yarmouth and Waveney, was launched last October and two recent pledges amounting to £60,000, and the £8,000 proceeds of the hospital fete, have taken the total so far to about £200,000.

Mr Hemming said: “The rate of donations over the past two or three months has really taken off and we are still aiming to have the centre built and open by 2010.”

The family-orientated centre will include a communal area, four clinics, rooms for complementary therapies, quiet and counselling rooms and even an anger room with a punch bag.

He said: “This will be a pioneering venture for our region, taking a holistic approach and bringing together the art and science of care.

“It will be a one-stop shop for patients coming in for tests and assessments and to undergo treatment, which will include therapies such as reflexology and acupuncture, as well as conventional medicine.”

Mr Hemming said because of the ageing population there were increasing numbers of people with life-shortening illnesses, but with advances in cancer drugs, many were living with their conditions for months and sometimes years. “Our aim is to give a quality of life back to these people, and it is estimated that at least 10,000 patients will benefit from the centre annually,” he said.

Fundraising co-ordinator Jenny Westgate said her 20-strong team of volunteers was growing all the time, but she is still keen to find more helpers, and people willing to undertake sponsored events such as the London Marathon.

Fundraisers coming up include Blooming Showtime, at the Ocean Room, Gorleston, on September 12, an evening of music entertainment through the decades mixed with floral designs produced by Dutch champion Gerard Bogaards and a host of demonstrators.

Ready, Steady, Cook, an evening with Richard Hughes from the Lavender House, Brundall, will take place at Yarmouth's Furzedown Hotel on September 25.

For details of events or to become a volunteer, contact Ms Westgate on 01493 453348.

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