After seven years of planning, and two years of hard work fundraising, we were able to host a tour of the new, finished intensive care unit at Harefield Hospital last night. The evening was truly amazing, and will leave me with memories of both tears and smiles.

Around 80 people joined us to take the first look at the new unit and scanner centre, which is truly innovative and pioneering. Guests at the event were all connected to the hospital – patients, their family members, and Trust staff – and had all given something towards the incredible project.

Visiting brought bittersweet memories to some of our guests, and there were plenty of stories to tell. Many had survived coming close to death, mostly thanks to the level of skill and care of the clinical staff at Harefield.

The appeal raised a total of over £3.3million, making it our second biggest project since the charity was founded. The building is incredibly special, and has been built to suit all the requirements our patients may have. There are large, low windows so patients look out at the new garden, which has large, mature trees in it. The most extraordinary aspect of all is the new sunshine terrace, which has the capacity to accommodate patients’ beds, and the technology to keep them connected to the equipment they need.

I would like to extend a huge congratulations to the team that drove this from an ambitious idea all the way through to design, and then into the building stage. Vince Berry, a member of the project team, described it last night as “so new, there were no guidelines, books, designs for us to work from – so we simply made it up, and here it is!” 

I’d also like to thank all of our donors, who have given donations of every size, from £50 for a brick (a lot of bricks meant a lot of donors!), through to a single donation of £112,000 from a former patient, who thanked the hospital for saving her life. We have commemorated some of these donors and those they wished to remember through their donation on a special honours board, which will be displayed on the unit.

The “thank you”s don’t stop there, however. This evening, volunteers are embracing the hideously cold weather to collect donations at South Kensington station. All the proceeds will be going toward vital equipment necessary to try and beat the UK’s biggest killers – heart and lung disease.

It will be chilly out there, but our volunteers will don their Santa hats and smile at every passer-by, hoping to helpus raise as much as possible before the weekend kicks in. 

It is dedication such as this that makes us proud as a Charity. Thank you to all of our volunteers, both past and present – and I’d like to give a special mention to the amazing Cliff James, who has helped us on more occasions than we could have ever expected!

We rely on all of you so much. The donation of your time, and your love to our Charity, and every pound you help us to raise goes directly to making life better for some of our most poorly patients, so they can be put back together again, and sent home.