THE Friarage Hospital has had its fair share of trials and tribulations in recent years – as have many of the region’s key health facilities.

The Northallerton site has seen the significant downgrade of several services, including maternity, leading to fears the much-loved hospital could end up as little more than a glorified community health centre.

While long-term concerns remain over the ability of a small hospital such as the Friarage to attract and keep senior staff, even as part of the wider South Tees Trust, it is hugely encouraging to see the opening of the £10m Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre this week.

The facility is state-of-the-art in its design and will be an asset to the Friarage for years to come.

It is testament to the dedication of the hospital’s supporters and staff, combined with the expertise of Macmillan, funds from benefactor Sir Robert Ogden, and the commitment of South Tees, that it has come to fruition.

As former cancer patient and volunteer Ken Smith says, the centre will be life changing for so many people, whether that is those attending for chemotherapy in more comfortable surroundings than the previous facility, or those who may benefit in future from the latest trials and research carried out there.

The sad fact is that many of us, or those close to us, may need the support of centres like this at some stage of our lives. Should the worst happen, it will be a comfort to know that such an excellent facility is available on our doorsteps.