Her Majesty The Queen opens new Maggie’s centre at Royal Free Hospital

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Landscape of HM The Queen and Dame Laura Lee in front of the new Royal Free Maggie's centre

© Alex Maguire Photography

Her Majesty The Queen met people living with cancer today when she officially opened Maggie’s Royal Free, the new cancer support centre at the Royal Free Hospital, London.

Her Majesty, President of Maggie's, met people living with cancer as well as staff and supporters of the charity in the new centre designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind of Studio Libeskind.

The Queen spoke to visitors who have been supported by the charity to hear their experiences of cancer and diagnosis and how visiting Maggie’s has helped them and their families.

One of the people who met Her Majesty was Katie Georgiou, 28, from North London. Katie was diagnosed with Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April 2022 and regularly visited the interim Maggie's centre at the Royal Free for benefits advice, art therapy, yoga, Nordic walking and psychological support.

Katie said: “It was such an honour to meet and speak to Her Majesty The Queen today at the beautiful new Maggie’s centre.

At Maggie’s, I can come in and express my true self without feeling guilty or hiding anything - I don’t have to wear my wig.

“Finding Maggie’s is like finding a new friendship that makes you into a new person because it opens new doors inside of you. To now have this amazing centre to come to makes a huge difference and contrast to the clinical surroundings of the hospital.”

Cancer support to complement treatment

The centre offers free support to anyone living with cancer, and their family and friends, and is based in the grounds of the Royal Free Hospital, which is part of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (RFL) – one of the largest providers of cancer treatment in the UK.

Maggie’s work complements the treatments received by people of all ages and with any type of cancer at the Royal Free Hospital, in London and in the surrounding areas.

The RFL receives nearly 50,000 cancer referrals annually. An interim Maggie’s centre has been supporting people on site since 2016.

A calming and peaceful design

The centre has been designed to be a breathing space away from the hospital - a home away from home. Its design draws people in with an approachable and undulating timber form.

The exterior's folds and curves create a calm and peaceful interior offering privacy, light, and shade.

To make the best use of the centre's site within the hospital grounds, the footprint of the ground-floor is small, and the building then expands as it rises.

An elevated deck on the roof level creates a serene and private enclosure and skylights flood the lower levels with light from the roof deck.

The centre sits on the grounds of the Royal Free Hospital and can be found at the bottom end of Rowland Hill Street, less than a minute’s walk from the Rowland Hill Street entrance.

Expert cancer support and beneficial workshops

Visitors will be able to talk to professional, expert staff, from cancer support specialists to psychologists and benefits advisors, or share experiences with other people in similar situations.

We also have professional staff who come into the centre to provide sessions on yoga, relaxation and nutrition and cancer workshops. No appointment or referral is needed, and all support is free.

The Royal Free London is a large NHS foundation Trust, employing more than 12,000 staff and serving a population of more than 1.6 million people across 70 sites in north London and Hertfordshire.

The Trust is one of the largest providers of cancer care in the UK and receives the most referrals for suspected cancer in London.

It delivers treatment to its local population across north London, but its specialist expertise in many cancers – such as skin, hepatobiliary, kidney and neuroendocrine tumours – means that many patients are cared for from across the UK.

Dame Laura Lee, DBE, Chief Executive of Maggie’s said: “We were delighted to once again welcome Her Majesty The Queen to open our newest purpose built centre at the Royal Free Hospital.

Her Majesty’s commitment to raising awareness of the support we offer at Maggie’s is invaluable at a time when people with cancer need our support so much.

“We hope that this new centre, beautifully designed by Daniel Libeskind, will continue to help our existing and new visitors to the Royal Free and from surrounding areas in London, so that anyone living with cancer can get the support they need.”

Peter Landstrom, Group Chief Executive of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust said: “It was wonderful to welcome Her Majesty the Queen to open this incredible new building. I hope it will provide some comfort to those living with cancer and their loved ones.

The Royal Free London and Maggie’s are at the heart of delivering the very best cancer care for patients and this centre will strengthen our relationship into the future.

“I am hugely grateful to everyone who has been involved in the creation of this centre.”

Robyn Volkers, Centre Head at Maggie’s Royal Free said: “Today has been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the opening of our beautiful centre and the generosity of our donors with some of the people who have worked so hard to make it possible.

“Her Majesty The Queen has made it even more special for our team and visitors.”

Architect, Daniel Libeskind of Studio Libeskind said: “It was great to work with Maggie’s on their centre at the Royal Free Hospital. The inspired work that Maggie’s does in the healthcare industry is unprecedented.

“The opportunity to serve patients and provide a thoughtful design is perhaps the highest service of architecture.”

We're here with you

If you or someone you know is worried about a cancer diagnosis, we have expert staff in our centres available to help you. 

All photos by © Alex Maguire Photography

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