Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in north London, and (right) tours the Mike Heaffey Centre at the hospital with (left to right)architect Andrew Walker, and Shannie Ross and Christine Asbury of Aspire, the charity that has raised £1.9 million to build it. photo credit: Carlos Reyes ARCHBISHOP Luigi Barbarito visited the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in north London last week to meet patients and staff, and to check on progress in the building of the £1.9 million Mike Heaffey Centre which will offer sports and rehabilitation facilities for those at the hospital.
Archbishop Barbarito, the papal pro-nuncio in Britain, pronounced himself very impressed with the centre which has been entirely financed through donations to the charity Aspire. The shell of the building which the archbishop was shown round by Aspire Honorary Secretary, Shannie Ross and Chief Executive, Christine Asbury, will by December be up and running, offering occupational and physiotherapy, medical research rooms, employment retraining, Craft and photography workshops, a drama room and gymnasium. Andrew Walker, the architect and himself paraplegic, pointed out to the archbishop sonic of the finer points of the centre which will be open to the public in an effort to break down barriers between the able bodied and the disabled.
The centre will be linked to the London Spinal Unit, also on the hospital site, by a cloistered garden to be named after Pope John Paul II. The archbishop examined plans for the garden. A group of 12 Catholic patients of the unit are to present an illustration of the garden to Pope John Paul Ii in person in Rome later this year.
Archbishop Barbarito toured the London Spinal Unit and met patients and their carers. lie later visited one of the children's wards at the pioneering hospital where teenagers with curvature of the spine and bone tumours are treated, and a second where babies from all around the country come for surgery for such complaints as dislocated hip bones.
An appeal to raise £50,000 for the Pope John Paul II garden and a further £12,000 to send the 12 patients and their carers to Rome has been launched by Aspire and was warmly endorsed by the archbishop. All donations should be sent to Aspire, at the RNOH, Brockley Hill, Stanniore, Middx HA7 4LP.