A NEW medical centre at a North Yorkshire RAF base has been officially opened by the station’s Honorary Air Commodore, The Duchess of Cornwall.

The duchess was welcomed to RAF Leeming by RAF personnel and their families, including children from Leeming RAF Community Primary School, who greeted her by waving miniature Union Jack flags, and presented her with a posy of flowers.

She was escorted on her tour of the station by Group Captain Stephen Reeves and met staff and patients in the medical centre, which replaces the original facility that dates back to 1939, and unveiled a plaque commemorating the event.

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Warrant Officer Station Medical Centre Paul Rudd said he was delighted with the new centre, which had given his staff a moral boost in being based at one site and having modern facilities to work in.

He said: “Our previous centre was split up over different temporary buildings but now we have one centre that means we can work better as a team and treat patients more effectively.”

The duchess met Corporal Paul Bentley-Crane who was receiving treatment in his recovery from a broken leg from physiotherapist Flight Lieutenant Anna Dowling.

He assured the duchess his treatment was going very well after she enquired after his progress, and she praised staff for working so hard.

On unveiling a plaque in the centre’s main waiting area, the duchess said: “Congratulations to everybody who has been involved in this, it’s very impressive.

“I saw the old one and there has been quite an improvement . It’s going to be wonderful for personnel to be able to use this.

“I think they are very lucky, and talking to people today I think they realise how lucky they are. I hope the centre goes from strength to strength.”

The medical centre team meets the needs of 2,800 patients, including primary health care and rehabilitation, and also treats the families of station personnel.

Construction work on the new £4.9m building began in August 2012 and was completed in March.

The replacement facility has a gymnasium area which has been configured to meet remedial needs; and wounded or injured personnel can be supported on site throughout their rehabilitation process.

The centre can treat everything from minor sports injuries to more serious traumas incurred as a result of operational duty.

The duchess attended today's engagement a week after leading mourners at the funeral of her brother, Mark Shand, who died unexpectedly after falling and hitting his head in New York.