A momentous milestone was reached on Friday, as the ARK celebrated with its "Topping-Out" Ceremony. Following many years of fundraising, the flagship £4.5 million ARK medical education centre is quickly taking shape next to the North Hampshire Hospital, Basingstoke.
The ARK's main purpose is to provide a top class facility to help meet the training and educational needs of all local healthcare staff and provide a venue for local volunteer groups and the community. The common goal will be the improvement of healthcare delivery both locally within North Hampshire and further afield through, for example, the specialist surgical cancer teaching provided by the Hospital's surgeons and facilitated by the Pelican Cancer Foundation.
During the last 10 years, the Project has been spearheaded by Mr Myrddin Rees,
The internationally renowned liver cancer surgeon. The Trustees,supporters, volunteers, community and hospital staff have supported his fundraising efforts in a multitude of ways. Building started in March 2001, with completion due mid 2002. Over £4.25million has been committed from very many sources and the final £250,000 is now being sought, to appropriately furnish and equip the centre. Myrddin Rees commented: "This is an important moment for the ARK Team and one which we feel privileged to share with the H N Edwards building staff They are translating our plans into an exciting reality and at this halfway stage we would like to acknowledge our warm appreciation both to them and to all our supporters who, together, have helped us get this far."
Mrs Sandra Fell, Chairman of the Ark Conference Centre, led the celebrations to thank builders H N Edwards & Partners Ltd for their accomplishment. Building staff joined around 180 invited guests for the ceremony on the ground floor of the Centre. Traditionally, these celebrations include the placing of an evergreen tree on the structure's roof as a token of good luck (representing the completion of the roof structure). At the ARK this tradition was dramatically symbolised by the switching on of Christmas tree lights, in front of the building and the cutting of a "Topping-Out" cake.
Mr Stuart Evans, Managing Director of H N Edwards & Partners Ltd, received the thanks and confirmed," it is especially rewarding to have contributed to this landmark project as a local contractor with strong roots in the community of the town and local area. The Team ethic for this project has been set down by the Client and their team which has greatly assisted us in the construction process"
The main guest is Mr Jonty Horne, a key local Ark supporter who, with the youngest building worker on the site, Mr Stefan Wheeler (apprentice electrician), cut the cake and switched on the lights. Other principle guests include the Mayor of Basingstoke Councillor Mrs Rose Wellman, The Earl & Countess of Portsmouth, Anthony Cooke The High Sheriff of Hampshire and Sir George Young, the local MP