Oasis of calm

Date published: 05 October 2015

TODAY the Oldham Chronicle can exclusively reveal the first designs and location for the new Maggie’s cancer support centre in Oldham.

Maggie’s, the charity that provides free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their family and friends, has applied for planning permission to bring a centre to the Royal Oldham Hospital and has released the first images of how it will look.

Designed as an oasis of peace and calm, the plans, by internationally renowned architects and designers dRMM, incorporate nature and relaxing spaces to help people struggling with the disease.

In the planning description, the architects explain how it is designed to be likened to “a house full of surprises”.

The building hovers over a sloping garden, supported on slender columns, with the garden below featuring “open air rooms”, framed by pine and birch trees, while a reflecting pool of rainwater runs under the centre.

Trees will also grow up through the building, bringing nature into the interior of the deliberately simple design of the tinder box centres.

Built within the hospital grounds, the new centre will complement the excellent clinical care offered by the hospital and will be the charity’s second centre in Greater Manchester, following in the footsteps of Maggie’s at The Christie, Withington, currently under construction and due to open in early next year.

Maggie’s chief executive, Laura Lee said: “A cancer diagnosis and treatment brings with it tough questions and difficult emotions which can leave many feeling isolated.

“The programme of support that we will be offering at Maggie’s Oldham will help to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of people with cancer across the region.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with the Royal Oldham Hospital and dRMM Architects on this project.

“The centre will create a calm and uplifting environment for everyone that visits the centre.

“Submitting our planning application is an exciting step forward in bringing a Maggie’s Centre to Oldham and in fulfilling our ambition to provide the highest quality cancer support to the people of the North-West.”

Maggie’s centres offer support to those diagnosed with cancer, as well as family and friends, in a warm and welcoming environment, usually within the grounds of an NHS facility or hospital.

Dr Roger Prudham, consultant, deputy medical director and cancer Lead clinician at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I would like to express my delight and excitement at the development.

“This building will offer patients, carers and staff something entirely different to any of our existing facilities.

“It is designed around the needs of people rather than the technical function of our clinical facilities.

“Experiences for families dealing with cancer will be improved with the generous provision of this unique building, complementing the investment that the trust and The Christie have made in cancer services for the population we serve.”

John Wilkes, director of support services at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “We are delighted to be working with Maggie’s and its design team on creating such an iconic building.

“As the Trust prepares to develop The Royal Oldham Hospital further, this building and landscaping will enhance an area at the front of the site that will benefit patients, visitors and staff.”

Each centre boasts a team of qualified professionals on hand to offer a varied programme of activities, including advice about dealing with treatment, wellness courses designed to improve diet or reduce stress and practical guidance with the financial implications of cancer.

Friendly and informal chats are also available with the centre also serving as a meeting place for people to find others in a similar situation.

Maggie’s Oldham has been made possible by the enormous generosity of the Stoller Charitable Trust, which has fully funded the centre.

Norman Stoller of The Stoller Charitable Trust and principal donor said: “Across Greater Manchester we are lucky to have the highest standard of treatment and care for cancer.

“I am proud to have helped complete the funding of Maggie’s at The Christie and also to support the building of Maggie’s Oldham, which alongside Maggie’s at The Christie, will offer support to complement the excellent medical care and ensure that Greater Manchester is truly a world leader in cancer care.”