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Duchess of Cornwall praises 'uplifting' Eastbourne hospice

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image captionThe Duchess of Cornwall met cancer patient Ray Boylan, 55, and joked she should have come with flowers after hearing he had recently remarried his wife

A hospice has been praised by the Duchess of Cornwall for its "wonderful, uplifting feeling" after she opened the £11.5m facility in Eastbourne.

St Wilfrid's Hospice has served East Sussex for 30 years and moved to its new building in the town in November.

Camilla toured the facilities and met patients after the official opening.

She said: "As a native of Sussex, it's always a real treat to come back here again, and especially to see this wonderful hospice."

The Duchess, who unveiled a plaque, added: "It's the most wonderful place, with a wonderful, uplifting feeling, which is what all hospices should have."

She talked to staff and volunteers, heard a performance from the Eastbourne College choir, and toured the 20-bed inpatient unit.

'Good atmosphere'

During a visit to the site's physiotherapy gym, the Duchess met Val Herlihy and Audrey Martin.

She picked up a dumbbell that Mrs Herlihy was using to build up her strength before she told her, with a smile: "I think I'll hand that back to you."

Ms Martin, who was using an exercise bike, said she joked with Camilla that she was on her way to Brighton. She said the Duchess asked her how far she had got.

Guests included BBC broadcaster David Dimbleby who is a new patron of the hospice and whose father died from cancer in 1965.

He talked about the change in cancer treatment since then and said: "There is no mystery behind it, and many of us die of cancer. My father died of cancer. Many people have got grandparents or parents with cancer.

"To have this change in the way in which it is treated from when my dad died in 1965 and now is just extraordinary."

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image captionThe Duchess later met students at the new Wine Research Centre at Plumpton College

He added: "The word cancer wasn't used - the Big C. Now people talk about it.

"The thing is to make it part of all our lives and part of living and I think that's what this place achieves. It has just such a good atmosphere."

Staff at the hospice care for more than 1,000 people each year and all the care is free.

Its £10,000-a-day running costs are partially met by the NHS and the rest comes from donations.

After opening the hospice, the Duchess went to Plumpton College where she is a patron, and visited its expanded Wine Education Centre.

"I know a bit more about the drinking of wine than the making of it, but I have had a very good lesson today," she said.

Later in the day, she visited Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft which underwent a a £2.3m revamp last year.

It holds works by artists and craftspeople including Eric Gill, David Jones, Edward Johnston and Ethel Mairet.

More on this story

  • Ditchling Museum reopens after £2.3m revamp

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