A HOSPICE has officially opened a new wing following a donation of £1.5m from entrepreneur and philanthropist Helen McArdle.

The Helen McArdle Wing at Willow Burn Hospice, near Lanchester, features a six-bed inpatient unit, spa bathroom and community café, with work including the refurbishment of the Sir Tom Cowie Health and Wellbeing Centre.

Each room has its own private balcony and portable beds can be moved to the balcony on request. The new facilities offer symptom management, respite care, short breaks and end-of-life care to those with a life-limiting illness.

Willow Burn Hospice chairman Paul Jackson, said: “Staff and volunteers are very excited about the opening of our new hospice and the opportunity to work in such a specialised facility. It will of course be sad to close the doors of the original unit as it is part of the Willow Burn history.

“However the new facilities and addition of two beds, means that we will be able to care for more people and provide much-improved family support and bereavement services.”

“The new hospice is something that the community can be very proud of and I invite as many of you as possible to come and show your support. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Helen McArdle for her very generous donation, it will truly make a difference to a lot of people’s lives.”

Mrs McArdle said: “I am extremely proud to be supporting such a wonderful organisation as they set out on a journey that will change the face of care in the Derwentside area.

“The local community has given me and my family so much support for many years and this is my opportunity to give back and say thank you.”

Work was done by Walter Thompson Building Contractors and Bernard Interiors. Willow Burn Hospice first opened its doors in 1989 when two remarkable women, Irene Mortimer and Valerie Davison decided to start providing palliative and end of life care services to the people of Derwentside.