A new £300 million armed forces trauma and rehabilitation centre has been formally gifted to the nation.
The Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), which was created thanks to the vision of the 6th Duke of Westminster, was opened today by the Duke of Cambridge and the Prime Minister.
The centre has been purpose-built at the Stanford Hall Estate, in the Midlands, where it will provide world-class rehabilitation facilities for service personnel who have suffered major trauma or injury.
Headley Court, Surrey, is transferring its rehabilitation services to the new centre. A national civilian facility for the NHS is also being proposed for the same site.
The DNRC was the idea of the late 6th Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor, who led the £300 million fundraising drive with a personal gift of £70 million.
Following the duke's death in 2016, his son, the 7th Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, carried out the duty of handing over the DNRC as a gift to the nation during the ceremony.
The duke said he was "thrilled" to be able to deliver on the vision of his father, who served in the Reserve Army for 40 years, of what he called "a British project that is about leading the way, not following".
"All the same, it shouldn't be me speaking to you, it should be my father and of course I wish it were," he added.
"In Iraq and Afghanistan he saw with his own eyes how heavy the price paid for the armed services can be and he was determined to do something unique for those who had paid it.
"He said 'I wanted somewhere where a young man or woman could drive up the drive, and say 'wow, someone is actually going to look after me'."
Accepting the DNRC on the UK's behalf, Prime Minister Theresa May called it "an extraordinary gift" and spoke of Stanford Hall Estate providing "the next generation of rehabilitative care".
Prince William, who was a patron of the funding appeal to establish the DNRC, paid tribute to the fundraising and support which had made the centre a reality.
The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, attended the opening ceremony as did the Crown Prince of Bahrain, historian Dan Snow and 300 supporters, staff and dignitaries.
The prince said:
"I have seen the growth of an idea transfer into what we see today - and it is a rare and immensely satisfying thing to have witnessed."
Cover Image: PA