First For Maggie’s As New Care Centre Is Opened In London

Nigella Lawson and Sarah Brown opened the first Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre outside Scotland yesterday, marking the launch of a network of facilities across the rest of the UK.

The £3.5m centre, at the Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith, London, will provide the same information and advice which is already on offer at the charity’s five existing centres north of the border. It was designed by Lord Rogers, who is responsible for several landmark buildings such as the Millennium Dome and the Pompidou Centre.

Another six centres are planned for England and Wales and are expected to be completed by 2012.

Mrs Brown, who is a patron of Maggie’s, said the new centre would provide a “fantastic service” for cancer sufferers. She added: “These world-class designed centres have offered professional support and information for people in Scotland and it is a tribute to this success that they have been invited to London and other locations in England and Wales.”

Ms Lawson said: “Richard Rogers and his team have created both a stunning piece of architecture and, crucially, an intimate and supportive domestic centre which will have a helpful impact on people living with cancer.”

Maggie’s was the brainchild of Maggie Keswick Jencks, an author and garden designer who, following her own cancer diagnosis, came up with the idea of providing a place of sanctuary for patients, their families, friends and carers. The first centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996 and there are four further centres in Scotland.

Each centre is known for its unique architecture. In London, Lord Rogers was asked to create to an “aesthetically uplifting environment” for the centre. A garden and series of courtyards by landscape designer Dan Pearson were also built on the site.

Lord Rogers, who is a friend of the Jencks family, said there were “two strong constraints” in creating the modern orange building in the heart of London.

He said: “One is that this is possibly one of the worst sites that you can possibly find – a really noisy road and a very dominating building (the hospital) on the other side.

“Therefore,we had to make this place a very good building and to get all of the views looking away from it all.

“Our brief was very clear. This had to be a place where people could get their confidence back. One moment you are diagnosed and the next your world has collapsed. You need to find a space where you can find people to talk to.”

To mark The Herald’s 225th anniversary, the newspaper is teaming up with the Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres to invite readers to become a Herald Friend of Maggie’s, either as an individual, as a group or as a company, to support the charity in 2008 and beyond.