Work begins on specialist dementia unit

Sir Willie Purves,  Charlie Graves , Aimee Martin and Rev Grace Redpath trustee cut the first sod.
Sir Willie Purves, Charlie Graves , Aimee Martin and Rev Grace Redpath trustee cut the first sod.

Work on the region’s first private-sector specialist residential unit for severe dementia sufferers got underway this week.

It was a milestone moment for the team working to bring Murray House, an 18-bedroom new-build development next to the Queen’s House care home in Kelso, to fruition in time for an opening this time next year.

Sir Willie Purves,  Charlie Graves , Aimee Martin, Rev Grace Redpath and Ray Jones at the site.

Sir Willie Purves, Charlie Graves , Aimee Martin, Rev Grace Redpath and Ray Jones at the site.

Queen’s House board of trustees, which is leading the project, has ploughed ahead with plans, despite the project’s costs rising from an estimated £3m to an increased £4.34m total.

Trust chairman Ray Jones said: “There is a desperate need for what we are doing.

“What we have got in the Scottish Borders is, over the next 20 years 30 per cent of the population will be 60 years and above, whereas in the rest of Scotland it will only be 24 per cent.”

Since planning permission was granted in March, the build cost has increased by £500,000 while an additional £1m has been incurred in legal, surveying, grounds and architecture costs. The trust has received no funding from the Scottish Government or local authority, however, with a Royal Bank of Scotland loan for £2.1m, a Robertson Trust grant of £380,000 and a Life Changes Trust grant of £225,000 secured, it is confident the new total will be met.

Sir Willie Purves,  Charlie Graves , Aimee Martin, Rev Grace Redpath and Ray Jones at the site.

Sir Willie Purves, Charlie Graves , Aimee Martin, Rev Grace Redpath and Ray Jones at the site.

“We have about a £250,000 shortfall at the moment,” Mr Jones added. “But we reckon we will have that by the time the unit is ready in November 2018.

“We will do more local fundraising once the build has started and will be going out to the businesses and the people of Kelso over the next few months.”

This week, Sir Willie Purves, ex-chairman of HSBC and a former Kelso High School pupil, was invited to cut the first sod together with Kelso High School’s head boy and girl.

Six construction companies submitted tenders for the work, with the contract going to Ayrshire-based 3B Construction who began last week, one week ahead of schedule.

“They came with a very good price and will be using a lot of local sub-contractors,” Mr Jones added.

The new unit will be built on ground alongside Queen’s House in Angraflat Road and consist of 18 large bedrooms, two common rooms, a reception, laundry, kitchen, offices, quiet room and beauty room.

Queen’s House will require 30 additional staff to run Murray House, in addition to the 65 already employed at the home.