By Tristan Harris 16/05 Updated: 21/05 09:39
BROMSGROVE'S Life After Stroke Centre - the first of its kind in the UK - was officially opened by HRH The Duke of Kent on Tuesday (May 15).
The event, which began with a champagne reception, was attended by staff and volunteers from The Stroke Association, stroke survivors, donors and dignatries, including councillors from Bromsgrove District, Worcestershire County and Birmingham City Councils.
Before addressing those who had gathered, The Duke, who is the president of The Stroke Association, was given a tour of the £2.2million building.
He met stroke survivors at a Stroke Club meeting, who were enjoying a number of activities, he saw a training session and was shown around the building's IT training suite, resource centre and where the National Stroke Helpline is based.
Stroke survivor and Stroke Club attendee Anne Marie Culliney described The Duke as 'very charming' and said the new centre had everything she, and other survivors, needed.
Volunteer Lynda Jones said: "It was nice that he showed a real interest in the centre and what goes on here."
As part of the transformation, from the old school building in Church Lane, to the new centre, artwork done by stroke survivor and multimedia artist Mark Ware was included in the reception area.
Mark, who is from Devon and suffered his stroke in 1996, is involved with an art project called Cathedra900 to celebrate the 900th anniversary of Exeter Cathedral. The piece of artwork he donated was inspired by the columns in the historic building.
He said: "When I visited the centre, I saw the space and thought it would be the perfect place for a piece of art."
He praised The Stroke Association saying, whereas the NHS and the hospitals helped with the medical issues, the charity was fantastic for 'holding his hand' and aiding his recovery.
The chairman of the Stroke Association, Sir Charles George, addressed those who attended the event.
He said: "For a long while, the Stroke Association has had a vision of a centre for stroke survivors, their families, health professionals and anyone with an interest in stroke."
He paid tribute to those stroke survivors who had helped design the centre.
He also thanked the donors who had made the Life After Stroke Centre possible and The Bromsgrove Standard for the media partnership with The Stroke Association, which had helped raise awareness of the project and funds.
Unveiling the plaque, The Duke said: "I have been extremely impressed by the building, which I hope is going to be the fore-runner for others around the country.
"A great many people have come together in creating this great centre."
He concluded by saying it was fantastic to meet so many people.
"I congratulate you all and wish the centre the greatest success," he added.
The Duke, a selection of dignatries, volunteers and staff then retired for afternoon tea in a grand marquee at the venue.
For more on The Stroke Association and the Life After Stroke Centre, visit www.stroke.org.uk
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