CANCER charity Maggie’s has officially opened a vital new extension to its support centre at the Western General Hospital which could help up to 5000 additional patients every year.
The £1.2 million project broke ground in February after a successful fundraising campaign in partnership with the Evening News encouraging readers to “buy a brick”.
The extension – designed by renowned architect Richard Murphy, who helped draw up plans for the original building – includes a large room which will allow the centre to expand the number of group support sessions it currently runs, and two smaller rooms for one-to-one interactions with patients.
The centre opened in its current location in 1996. The centres have been created in memory of Maggie Keswick Jencks, who was inspired to develop a new approach to care after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 1993 and left to digest the news alone in a hospital corridor. She passed away in 1995, a year before the first centre opened, but her memory lives on through the centre’s name.
The charity now has 22 facilities across the UK and abroad receiving more than 250,000 visits from those living with cancer every year.
Maggie’s chief executive Laura Lee hailed the final build as “wonderful”, adding: “I am delighted our new space is open and ready to welcome many more people living with cancer in the Lothians.
“The opening of the second extension to Maggie’s Edinburgh, the original Maggie’s, also feels symbolic of how far we have come as an organisation since we first opened here in the grounds of the Western General 22 years ago.
“We will continue to grow in line with our ambition to provide practical and emotional support to as many people living with cancer as possible.”
Fundraiser Lisa Stephenson, whose tireless campaigning for the charity helped finance the build, was among the guests at the official opening of the new extension on Wednesday.
Mum-of-two Lisa, who attended the centre after being diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer in 2011, raised more than £280,000.
Lisa said: “It is wonderful to have the Edinburgh extension open and to know that even more people will benefit from the same love and care the team at Maggie’s Edinburgh has given my family and myself over the years.”
She added: “I am deeply grateful to everyone who has fundraised and helped me fundraise, both for the extension and the everyday running costs of the centre which is a lifeline to so many.”
In its 22-year history, more than 420,000 people have passed through the doors of the Edinburgh centre from all over the world.
Broadcaster and Maggie’s patron Kirsty Wark and golfer Colin Montgomerie – who helped spearhead the move to build Maggie’s Aberdeen and Maggie’s Lanarkshire through the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation, set up in memory of his mother – were also in attendance for the event.
Wark, who first became a patron of the charity in 2001, said: “The fact that the Edinburgh centre needed extended – for the second time – proves how essential the support Maggie’s offers is.”
Montgomerie said: “It was an honour to be in Edinburgh for the official opening of the much-needed extension and to see how Maggie’s continues to grow and reach more people.”