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19/12/01
The Queen re-opens Blue Cross Hospital

FOUR-LEGGED patients at the country's oldest animal hospital had a distinguished visitor last week, when Her majesty the Queen officially re-opened The Blue Cross flagship animal hospital in London.

The hospital, the first of its kind in the UK when it opened to the public almost 100 years ago, has just undergone a complete re-build and modernisation costing 4 million, funded entirely by voluntary donations.

The Queen stayed at the hospital for almost an hour, where she enjoyed a tour of the new facilities given by Chief Veterinary Surgeon, Jess Gower, and met a host of the hospital's animal patients with their owners.

Facilities include three state-of-the-art operating theatres, new kennelling areas, access for disabled clients, a private owner's room, and much needed new equipment to handle the 25,000 consultations that are expected each year. The Queen was welcomed by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Westminster.

The Blue Cross Patron His Grace the Duke of Westminster OBE TD DL, Appeal Chairman Lord Sheppard, President of The Blue Cross Dr Alastair Porter CBE, Chairman Di Sinclair and Chief Executive John Rutter.

The new hospital building has been re-named Sheppard House, in recognition of the work Lord Sheppard of Didgemere KCVO Kt as the Appeal Chairman. Lord Sheppard's influential backing and unwavering support has helped to raise a significant amount of the funds needed to rebuild the new hospital.

Lord Sheppard says: "We have received very generous support, both for animal lovers and those who want to help people who cannot afford treatment for their pets. Fundraising will continue to complete the fitting-out and equipping of the new hospital."

The hospital was first opened to the public in 1906 to provide veterinary care to London's working horses and other animals. Until rebuilding work began the hospital had remained open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.