One of the first patients to move into the new £6m Thorpe Hall Hospice yesterday says his families “prayers have been answered”.
David Laraman MBE, 73, moved into the Grade I listed mansion house last week and was one of the first to take up residence in the new state-of-the-art building adjacent to the west wing.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago and since then, his wife Elaine, 67, has been nursing him at their home in Coates, near Whittlesey.
But the strain of every day life became too much when David’s cancer spread further and it was a Macmillan Cancer Support nurse who suggested Thorpe Hall.
David said: “It was getting very stressful for my wife to be looking after me. Elaine came to Thorpe Hall and realised that they could give us the help we needed. We feel like our prayers have been answered.”
Elaine, who has been married to David for 35 years, said: “David being here means we can have quality time together. He has been so brave and now he’s getting the care and support he needs. Most importantly, I can spend time with him as his wife, which is just so important as time is so precious now.
“The building is just a dream. It’s wonderful for him and it has everything he needs and the staff here are so wonderful.”
David, who was awarded an MBE in 1995 for his service as a welfare officer with the Gurkhas in Hong Kong, served 37 years in the Army. He chose his room Summer 6 in the new building, which was completed just last month.
He added: “I loved the purple colour and the view of the water garden. The rooms are all so lovely and big but this one just felt right for me. The support from the staff is fantastic. I am lucky to be here.”
The couple hope that David will be able to spend more time at the home they’ve shared for 16 years, but Elaine added: “This is where he’s asked to come to pass away.”
Elaine hopes to eventually be able to pay back the support the couple have received by volunteering at Thorpe Hall herself.
David was one of 12 patients to leave the wards on the first and second floor of Thorpe Hall. Extra staff, volunteers and external agencies were drafted in to ensure a smooth transition. All the patients were settled in by lunchtime.
New patients admitted for palliative or end of life care will now be taken directly to one of the 20 private bedrooms in the new building, all of which have en-suite bathrooms and top facilities. Every room also has direct access into the new courtyard gardens.
Thorpe Hall’s hospice director Jane Petit was on hand to welcome the first patients.
She said: “The move into our new building is the culmination of years of hard work, planning and fundraising.
“Seeing the reaction of patients and their families as they have come into the new building for the first time has been wonderful.
“We can’t change the outcome for our patients – but we are pleased to now be caring for them in an environment which matches the incredible care we always strive to provide.”