A new café and community hub built in the grounds of St Catherine’s Hospice has been launched with the help of Good Morning Britain star Ranvir Singh.
The Preston presenter made the first cup of coffee in The Mill in St Catherine’s Park - the charity’s new venture which opens to the public on Monday.
Ranvir, who is also a regular face on ITV’s News at Ten and was awarded an honorary fellowship from the University of Central Lancashire last year, said she was delighted to attend the launch.
She said: “It is absolutely fantastic to be here. When I was working in Lancashire as a cub reporter at BBC Radio Lancashire we did so many stories when I would come up to St Catherine’s, it’s the 30th anniversary next year so this has been a part of my life and the landscape of my life in Preston.
“It’s really impressive to go from the germ of an idea to turn a barn into this amazing space.”
“It is wonderful to see a much-loved local charity looking forward to an exciting new chapter - adapting to the changing needs of local people and working in new ways to help the local community whilst also attracting new supporters to ensure its survival for the future.”
The concept of The Mill is to support people facing life-shortening illnesses in an informal, relaxed café setting. It will provide information, advice, therapies and support for local people.
Among the guests at the launch event was football pundit Mark Lawrenson. He said he was impressed with The Mill. He added: “The think I like about it is you’ve got to speculate to accumulate - and they’ve gone for it!”
The project, which has been funded largely by grants and awards including a substantial grant won from NHS England, will operate as a social enterprise - with all profits ploughed back into the hospice.
Other guests at the launch event included the Mayors of South Ribble, Chorley and Preston, representatives from architects Cassidy and Ashton and Eric Wright Construction, and other businesses and benefactors who have supported the project.
Chief executive of St Catherine’s Hospice Stephen Greenhalgh and chairman of the board of trustees Cliff Hughes MBE led the speeches.
Cliff said: ”The finished project would not have been possible without the hard work of many over the last six years - from those who helped us win the grants, to the contractors who turned our vision into a reality.”
Stephen said: “As we look ahead to 2015, our 30th anniversary year, The Mill signifies an exciting new chapter for St Catherine’s.
“Our biggest hope is that The Mill becomes a source of inspiration that removes anxieties about hospice care and empowers people to help friends and neighbours at those times when it matters most.”