Lancashire Teaching Hospitals staff received an early present this week ahead of the NHS’ 75th birthday, with the reopening of Charters Restaurant at Royal Preston Hospital.
The major makeover was made possible by funds from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity and NHS Charities Together, and following an extensive refurbishment, the ribbon was cut by Chief Executive, Kevin McGee, at an opening ceremony yesterday.
The revamp offers a bright, modern and welcoming space, which includes a dedicated area where hospital staff can relax and have food and drink whilst on shift.
The refreshed restaurant space, which has seating for around 230 people, also connects directly to a new garden area which includes a beautifully hand-crafted steel memorial tree where names of those who have donated organs will be engraved onto leaves.
Trust Chief Executive, Kevin McGee, was delighted to see the end product. He said: “A massive thank you to the Charity, whose help and support made the refurbishment possible, and thank you to the architects and builders for working so hard to finish the job within the shortest possible timescale.
“Thanks also to the Estates and Facilities team for their support, and to all our colleagues for bearing with us whilst the work took place – I am sure they will agree that it has been worth the wait and hope they will enjoy this fantastic space moving forward - I know I will!
“The well-being of our staff is a top priority, so it’s great to see the fabulous food offering from our catering team both here and in other outlets across our hospitals.”
The new space also includes a bespoke mural designed by local artist, David Robinson from DaveRob Design, who was commissioned to create a striking montage of the city’s landmarks, famous people, and characters. The mural was also endorsed by Preston-born Nick Park, who was thrilled to give permission to include one of his most famous creations, Wallace and Gromit, as a thank-you to NHS staff for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much thought has gone into the mural which includes many more of Preston’s most famous faces and landmarks, with depictions of Preston North End legend Sir Tom Finney, the Guild Wheel, and the iconic clock at the brutalist Preston Bus Station – showing the time set at 20:00 as a mark of respect to colleagues, signifying when the ‘Clap for Carers’ took place during the pandemic.
Upon completion of the project, David Robinson said: “As a proud Prestonian, it was an absolute honour to collaborate with FWP and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity on the artwork. Preston has so many iconic elements from its past and present, I think the hardest part of the project was deciding what to put into the illustration, and what to leave out. The new restaurant looks fantastic, and I hope visitors enjoy the new space.”
The re-opening was marked with charity giveaways and entertainment from the Fylde Ukelele Network, a band of musicians who delivered a variety of songs from down the decades.
Staff also enjoyed special cupcakes carrying the logos of NHS75 and Baby Beat, part of the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity.
Much of the improvements at Charters Restaurant have been made possible by funding of £70,000 from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity team and a £65,000 grant application from NHS Charities Together, which enabled the procurement of furnishings and a new 24-hour kitchenette facility. A further £4,900 was used to provide new conservatory blinds and the iconic mural.
Head of Charities, Paula Wilson, said: “The charity is thrilled to be able to support colleagues with this wonderful new dining area, and what a fabulous NHS75 birthday present for everyone. The real icing on the cake for me is the mural and the fact that Nick Park, himself, was thrilled to be asked to contribute. I was very proud to see it at the opening, it really is beautiful and gives colleagues the relaxing recreation area they deserve!”
The space was designed by Preston headquartered architecture, design and master planning practice, FWP. Senior Associate at the firm, David Simmons, who led on the project, said: “The Charters Restaurant plays an important role in the hospital as its main restaurant and café area. The refurbishment has created a clean and bright eating and meeting place that is both modern and spacious and very far removed from the traditional hospital ‘canteen’ feel.
“Delivery of the project was very much a team effort and we worked very closely with the Trust throughout.”
Emma Turner, Managing Director of Chorley-based D&G Builders and Joiners Ltd, who carried out the construction work on the project, added: “We are delighted to have been able to help renovate the Charters Restaurant and give hard-working staff a comfortable new space to take time out, particularly in the year of the NHS’ 75th birthday. It’s nice to give back to the Trust after what they did for everyone during the pandemic and continue to do for the community.”
The need for the project was outlined during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a workforce-led staff engagement campaign, staff Governor suggestions and an Executive-led project team to improve the health and wellbeing of staff. The new space now follows NHSE guidance on the practical and emotional support that should be available to staff, including having a safe space to rest and recuperate to manage and process the physical and psychological demands of work.
The new facility will be open to staff for both breakfast and lunch, providing a much-needed area during what is a pressurised time across the NHS as a whole.