THE PRINCESS Royal declared ‘this is now the future’ as she officially unveiled a new care home for people with disabilities.
Ashley Place, which occupies the former Russells Hotel, Kings Parade, Bognor Regis, marks a new chapter in the charity Livability’s long-established connection with the town.
“The ability to be here almost continuously since 1892 it is no mean track record,” said Princess Anne.
“It is quite a lot of experience gained over a period of time which Livability now has the advantage of and I hope all of that comes together.
“You can feel that has come together at Ashley Place. They have planned for the future, and now you can look towards the future and enjoy it, I hope.”
The princess, who is patron of the Livability charity, then had a guided tour of Ashley Place, which replaces the service’s home at Ashley House, Aldwick Road.
Dave Chant, whose daughter Marie is a resident, said: “This is wonderful compared to the other one.
“It’s spacious, the bedrooms have ensuites, it is all up together.”
Relocating has been ‘a long time coming’ according to the house’s manager Trudy Lockyer.
She said: “I have been with the organisation for 15 years and all that time there have been discussions about needing to move.”
After a few false starts the charity came across the new site by accident when a conversation about residents staying at Russells Hotel while work was completed ended with the then owner asking if they would be interested in buying the building.
The hotel had been used by Action for the Blind, meaning it already had features which took people with disabilities into consideration. However work including widening doors and putting in a second lift was undertaken, spanning a year from purchase to moving in on April 21.
This is just phase one of the plans but it is already making a real difference to the 16 adults who live here.
Claire Needs, who has spent nearly a decade as a Livability resident, said: “I like my sea view and being able to open all the doors and use the lift on my own. The accessible kitchen means I can wash up my own cups when I have drinks. It is small things like that which really enhance my independence.
“I can see what the future can hold here, whereas at Ashley House there was a lot of uncertainty. The old building was just too tired.”
Dave Webber, chief executive of Livability, said: “There were hurdles to jump but it has been worth it, it’s just fantastic.
“We have got here, we have moved in and the residents – who it is all about – have just been telling me how delighted they are. That is job done really.”
To have a royal visit to mark the occasion really helped make the day one to remember.
Ms Needs said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. It is very special to have royalty seeing residents in their new home. It’s been a very special few months and this has been the climax.”
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