The first major milestone in the rebuilding of St Columba’s Hospice has been reached with the completion of a new education centre.
The building, next to the hospice’s main site in Granton, combines a modern extension with the renovation of an existing listed building, formerly a private home.
It has a purpose-built lecture theatre, seminar rooms and social spaces, along with a library and computer suite.
The centre also contains offices for some of the hospice’s administrative staff.
It is the first stage in St Columba’s £26 million rebuild project, which will see the rest of the hospice transformed over the next four years.
Since April last year, Evening News readers have helped raise more than £350,000 for the hospice’s Buy a Brick campaign, which kicked off the appeal to raise £7m for the rebuild, and is still open for donations.
The new teaching areas replace the previous, cramped facilities in the hospice’s main building. They will offer teaching in palliative care to graduate and undergraduate students.
Alison Allan, the hospice’s project lead for the rebuild, said: “The completion of our new education centre marks the culmination of the first stage in our ambitious rebuild plans for St Columba’s Hospice. This wonderful new facility will greatly enhance the delivery of our teaching and education programmes.
“It’s fabulous to be in here, and to have it done. It finally feels like it’s going to be an actual teaching building.”
The project has retained the terrace and some of the landscaped gardens of the original house, which also include the anchor and railings reputedly from Cunard luxury liner HMS Aquitania.
The lower section of the garden, on Lower Granton Road, will become a temporary yard during the next stage of the rebuild, before finally being turned into a new car park. Many of the teaching rooms and offices have panoramic views across the Firth of Forth.
Head of education Margaret Colquhoun said she was delighted with the atmosphere at the centre. “I think it’s beautiful,” she said.
“For me the most important thing is that it’s flexible, because we teach very, very different groups. We teach big classes of nursing students, and small postgraduate classes, so being able to use each of the rooms in a different way was really important to us.
“I think there’s something quite inspirational about the teaching areas. Part of care is not just about facts and knowledge, it’s about beliefs and values, so I think this kind of environment lends itself to that.
“Our old lecture theatre was very dark and stuffy, it had very little natural light and was very cold in winter and hot in summer. This lecture room has adjustable temperature and daylight.
“The other really big difference for us will be the library. We have a very well-stocked library in the hospice, but it’s a bit like a large cupboard, whilst here the books are well laid out and we’ve got a reading room.”
In the spring the rest of the hospice, including the wards and outpatient services, will relocate to Kirklands House at Gogarbank while the building project continues on its site in Boswall Road.
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