Guests came together yesterday (Tuesday, July 3) to celebrate a milestone in the construction of St Wilfrid’s new hospice.
A topping out ceremony was held at the site in Bosham to mark the completion of the building’s steel frame after work started in January.
The charity has outgrown its Donnington home and the £15.5m ‘Dreambuilding’ project will have more than doubled the amount of usable space.
Capital campaign co-ordinator Chloe Neilson-Hopkins placed the final bolt in the frame with Simon Clayton, site manager of the building contractors Kier.
In a speech at the start of the ceremony, chair of the trustees of St Wilfrid’s Angela Wormald said: “This is a tremendously special occasion as we mark the completion of the frame of our new hospice, and one which gives us a chance to pause and reflect on what has been achieved so far.
“St Wilfrid’s has cared for over 17,000 people since 1987 when we first opened and we look forward to supporting many thousands more in the future, as well as continuing to develop our services to be delivered where and when it matters to each individual.”
After thanking supporters, the community, contractors, project managers, trustees, staff and volunteers, she said: “But we still have a challenge to meet. We still need to raise over £1.7 million and we have nine short months in which to do this.
“Not only that but we also need to continue to raise funds each and every year to deliver our care and support in the community. No small order.”
Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex Denise Patterson, who is also patron of the hospice, formally opened the proceedings.
In her speech, she said: “Like many of you here today I’ve experienced the outstanding care that St Wilfrid’s gives. The hospice at home gave support to my mother during the final stages of her life and they also gave support to me after her passing. And I will always be hugely grateful to the wonderful St Wilfrid’s team.
“This has been a massive undertaking, I think we can see that. And I know that the Lord Lieutenant will join me in congratulating the trustees for their vision and also their courage in making this happen. And indeed to everyone who’s had a part in this amazing project. Personally I just can’t wait to see how the hospice is going to look – I mean it’s really exciting.”
At the ceremony was founder of Checkatrade Kevin Byrne and his wife Lisa, whose family foundation has pledged £300,000 to the project and has challenged the hospice to match it pound for pound.
Mr Byrne, who sold Checkatrade in Selsey last year, said: “I think supporting things like this is absolutely necessary in my position.”
He added: “What we are saying is if some one gives a pound I’ll give a pound – it’s such a fantastic project.”
Also in attendance was the Mayor of Chichester Martyn Bell. He said: “What amazes me is the progress – the rapid progress that has been made.”He added on the building: “I’m very, very pleased – I’m delighted.”
Richard Shrubb, chairman of FG Woodger Trust, one of the initial fundraisers of the Dreambuilding appeal, said: “It’s a grand new building – very impressed with how far it has come in such a short time.”
“Last time I was on site it was a sea of mud,” he added
Work on the facility is expected to be completed in spring next year.