Fundraisers have responded to a new Aberdeenshire hospital facility, which is already providing life-saving treatment, by saying it highlights the spirit of giving found in the north east.
The renal dialysis unit at Kincardine Community Hospital – funded entirely by those in the local area – was officially opened yesterday.
The unit opened to patients last November, eight years after efforts to have it built initially commenced.
The south of Aberdeenshire was the last remaining part of the north-east without a satellite renal unit – with others in Banff, Peterhead, Inverurie and Elgin.
Community groups, businesses, schools and individuals in Kincardine and The Mearns raised more than £1m to bring the scheme to fruition.
Other money came from a £250,000 legacy in a donor’s will and hundreds of thousands more was covered by the NHS Grampian Endowment Fund.
The Stonehaven unit covers residents from as far south as St Cyrus, over to Luthermuir and up to Fettercairn, Banchory and across to Portlethen.
Dr Ann Humphrey, who led the fundraising campaign, said: “After 25 years working in the dialysis unit at ARI, I know what a difference it makes to patients to have the treatment nearer to home.
“It was very hard and a little embarrassing to keep approaching the same people because the costs were rising faster than we could keep up with.
“We are really lucky in the north-east that we still have a community here who are willing to get together and raise money for something like this.”
The Stonehaven Rotary Club was key in persuading people to contribute to the cause.
Past president Billy Hunter added: “The scale of the support from the local community was really quite humbling.
“To see the unit up and running and making a difference to patients is fantastic.
“People gave as much as they could – and every organisation in Stonehaven did something to help.”
Dr Neil Edward – a pioneer of dialysis at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary – unveiled a plaque marking the official opening of the facility.
He said: “I visited yesterday for the first time and was just blown away.
“Travelling to ARI from this area is a terrible business and it could have taken a whole day for treatment, so coming here will make an enormous impact.”