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HRH visits the Blackthorn Medical Centre and the Grange in Kent

10th November 2004

The Prince of Wales visited the award-winning Blackthorn Medical Centre in Maidstone, Kent, and met many of the patients who were benefiting from the centre's approach to integrated health.

The Blackthorn Medical Centre, built with funding from The Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health, specialises in providing complementary therapies for people with conditions that are difficult to treat such as cancer, ME and multiple sclerosis.

The centre, which won the Foundation's Integrated Health Care award in 2001 and treats about 400 patients each year, offers complementary treatments such as rhythmical massage and therapies that involve music, art and water. The centre works closely with the NHS General Practice at Blackthorn Medical Centre and has strong links with the local community and social services.

Much of the work is based on an anthroposphical approach to medicine, which treats the person as a whole, including the body, soul and spirit.

The Prince chatted and joked with staff and patients as he was given a tour of the premises by Dr David McGavin, the centre's Medical Director.

In the music therapy room, His Royal Highness played a number of the instruments including a wrist drum, a tambourine style instrument with corks attached, and a rain maker, which produces a sound like thunder.

The Prince joked with the patients and said: “You can have great fun in here. Have you got a didgeridoo?”

Dr McGavin also outlined to The Prince the centre's pioneering Cancer Research Project.

The pilot project is designed to explore the effectiveness of an anthroposphical programme of intervention for patients who have metastatic or progressive cancers. Christine Armitage, from Ightham, Kent spoke to The Prince as she painted in the art therapy room.

She said had been coming to the centre for nearly a year since she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mrs Armitage said Maidstone Hospital had been treating her condition with conventional medicine, but the Blackthorn Medical Centre had treated the psychological part of her disease.

“I needed more help to carry on. The moment I walked in here it felt so right. There should be more places like this for people to go around the country.”

The Prince was shown the centre's plant nursery, craft workshop and café where organic produce from the garden is served for lunch. The centre uses the principle of ‘land-to-table' to provide work and learning for people with a range of serious illnesses to rehabilitate and prepare for the worlds of education or work.

Earlier in the day, The Prince paid a visit to the historic home of one of Britain‘s greatest architects, Augustus Pugin.

The Prince, who is well known for his work on preserving the nation's heritage for future generations, chatted at length to staff and apprentices involved in the restoration of The Grange in Ramsgate, Kent.

Augustus Pugin, who designed the gothic interior of the Palace of Westminster, built The Grange as his family home in the 19th century.

The Prince is Patron of the Landmark Trust charity, which is currently restoring the Grade I listed building.

The Grange is a rare example of a domestic building designed by Pugin and is undergoing much needed restoration.

The Prince was shown around the re-roofing of the property and was shown some of Augustus Pugin's re-discovered gothic wallpaper design.

Once fully restored, the main rooms will be open to the public with a small exhibition.

The Prince also visited the Ramsgate Abbey, located next to The Grange and designed by Pugin's son.

The Abbey House and allied monastery is the principal house of the six communities of Benedictine Monks and Nuns in the UK.

Later in the day, The Prince visited the historic dockyard area of Chatham and attended the 1400th anniversary of the foundation of Rochester Cathedral.