A NEW £4.4m respite centre for children was given the royal seal of approval by Prince Michael of Kent.
The Smile Centre in Hemlock Road, Waterlooville, has been built after four years of fundraising.
Children can stay there – with or without their families – to give them a break from their everyday lives.
Prince Michael toured the building before meeting guests and unveiling a plaque in the centre’s cafe.
He said: ‘I’m very impressed with the quality of the building and the amount of effort and thought that’s gone into its construction.
‘I wish every possible success for the future, both for the children and the people that look after them.’
I’m very impressed with the quality of the building and the amount of effort and thought that’s gone into its constructionPrince Michael
Steve Clark, chairman of Smile Support & Care, which runs the centre, said he was delighted.
He said: ‘This centre fulfils a gap in the care that’s needed for children with disabilities, which is absolutely essential.
‘There’s unlimited demand for this sort of service and we’re happy to be able to provide that here.
‘Having Prince Michael here to open the centre is wonderful and very humbling.’
Charmaine Loving was also at the ceremony.
The 11-year-old, who has a learning disability, said the centre was ‘really cool’.
She said: ‘I like the play room and the telly.’
Her mum Eve Loving said: ‘The centre is homely and lovely. It’s needed so much for the parents as well as the children.
‘To get this kind of respite helps us do the jobs we do.’
Havant mayor Councillor Leah Turner called the centre ‘beautiful’.
She said: ‘It’s built to be exactly what the children need when they come here on respite and it also takes into account the needs of the families, which I think is especially good.’
The centre includes eight bedrooms with en-suites for children to stay, two family suites, a sensory room, a large therapy room, cafe and gardens.
It is expected the centre will cater for hundreds of children from Hampshire and surrounding counties each year.
Smile Support & Care was founded in 1994 under the name Search to provide to disabled children and young adults up to the age of 25 and their families.
Mr Clark said: ‘As the number of the children that we cared for grew, feedback from a number of families told us they would like somewhere to go for a family holiday.’
The centre is next to the next to Rachel Madocks School for children with special needs.