WITH more than 150 years since the last royal visit, a village warmly welcomed the Countess of Wessex.
Her Royal Highness Sophie was in Titchfield today to see The Haven in Wessex’s new building, at number 35 The Square.
The charity, which helps women with breast cancer, recently bought a former house and will look to transform it into a place where cancer sufferers can go.
After seeing the building, Sophie said it will be ‘the jewel in Titchfield’s crown’.
‘I remember when this building was just being talked about and now it is here,’ she said.
‘Clearly there’s a lot of work to do but once it is finished, it will be the jewel in Titchfield’s crown.
‘People who use the centre will benefit from not only its services but from the wonderful village that surrounds it.’
Villagers waited outside the building, on The Square, for the arrival of Sophie and when she arrived, she greeted them all.
She was then given the tour of the building and met people who will be involved with its everyday running and patients.
This included volunteers from the charity, breast cancer specialists from Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, and Southampton General Hospital, and Fareham MP Mark Hoban.
For the chief executive of The Haven in Wessex, Pam Healy, it was great to have Sophie visit the building before its refurbishment.
She said: ‘The whole day was fantastic. Her Royal Highness has been so supportive of the charity so it was great that she could come down and see the new building before it is refurbished.’
The charity aimed to raise just over £2m for its new building and have so far reached the half way mark.
Pam added: ‘Now we have bought the building, we can look at decorating and refurbishing it.
‘We aim to be open for business by next summer.’
Once opened, the centre will have therapy rooms, bedrooms and all the other necessities to help women with breast cancer.
Lucy Cowie, appeal manager, said: ‘We want to work hand in hand with the two big hospitals and that’s why we thought Titchfield was a great location.
‘It has easy access and is right in the middle of the two.
‘We have been warmly welcomed.’
The Haven is the UK’s only specialist breast cancer charity that offers completely free of charge, bespoke one-to-one support to improve the quality of life of anyone affected by breast cancer.
Specialist nurses and experts in nutrition, exercise, complementary therapies and emotional support provide tailor-made programmes of care for each Visitor to The Haven.
It costs around £1,000 to deliver a full programme to each visitor.
In 2011, 2,682 people were treated for breast cancer at Wessex hospitals confirming that the region has one of the highest rates of incidence in the UK.
The capital appeal to raise £2.5 million to open The Haven in Wessex was launched in April 2013. To date, more than £1m has been raised to purchase the building, but another £1.5m is needed to complete the refurbishment and secure the first two years’ running costs, before the opening in 2015.
Further information about The Haven is available at the charity’s website.
It was Titchfield’s first Royal visit since 1858, when two of Queen Victoria’s children - the 17 year-old Prince Edward (later to become Edward VII), and his younger brother, Prince Arthur - visited the church and the Abbey with their tutor.