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HM The Queen to re-open new animal hospital

HER MAJESTY The queen will officially re-open the Blue Cross's flagship Victoria animal hospital in Hugh Street SW1, on Tuesday 20 November 2001.

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

Cutting edge facilities will include three state-of-the-art operating theatres, new kennelling areas (complete with music for the more nervous patients), 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.

Jess Gower, Chief Veterinary Surgeon at the Victoria hospital says: "We're all delighted to have such up-to-date facilities as they've been much needed for quite some time. With the new equipment now in place we are hoping to see 5,000 more cases each year and this can only benefit both the animals and their owners".

The new hospital is to be re-named, Sheppard House, in recognition of the work of 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 from 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.

The Queen will be welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, 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 and Chief Executive John Rutter.