A specialist centre to transform the lives of dementia sufferers in Sunderland has been officially opened today.
Seafarers Way, a purpose built extra care apartment complex, and The Old Orphanage, a Grade II listed building, were officially declared open, following the multi-million pound revamp.
The orphanage and its grounds in Moor Terrace, Hendon, have been reinvented into a community complex, with Seafarers Way – a brand new extra care facility - built in the grounds.
Sunderland City Council led on the development, which was made possible due to capital funding from the Heritage Lottery and private investor capital funding.
The buildings were officially opened by Harry Surtees, who lived in The Old Orphanage at just 11-years-old, and Hilary Doxford, the great, great, great granddaughter of the founder of Sunderland’s Doxford Shipbuilding company, who has been living with dementia for several years and is now an international speaker on the condition.
Hilary, said: “It is fantastic to see Sunderland, a city I have such special family links to, leading the way with the provision of independent living for people with dementia.
“Seafarers Way gives people hope; hope that they can live their lives to their full capacity and not just to exist, hope that they can live happily among friends and hope that they can continue to have a good quality of life and the dignity they deserve.
“The fact that the city council is so committed to providing this for their elderly is just wonderful.
“So much thought has gone into the design of this scheme to incorporate natural light, access to the outdoors and space to reminisce, as well as memory prompts and visual aids to help with way-finding.
“It truly is a delight to know that there are people who care enough about people living with dementia to provide them with a safe living environment, independence and dignity at home.”
Seafarers Way provides 38 purpose-designed apartments and the development also features a restaurant, gym, hairdressing salon, activity room and beauty salon.
And, The Old Orphanage is now home to the East End Community Association.
Harry Surtees, who lived in the orphanage between 1937 and 1939 when he was evacuated due to the Second World War, said: “I have lots of happy memories from my time at The Old Orphanage.
“I can remember the rooms in there really clearly. The gymnasium was the main room we used. We would go in there and play games; table tennis and draughts. There was a wireless in there too.
“Many parts of the building are just as I remember them. It’s good to see the building find a new use after being empty for so long.”
Councillor Graeme Miller, Portfolio Holder for Health Housing and Adult Services at Sunderland City Council, said: “It was an absolute privilege to be involved in the official opening of these two fantastic buildings in Hendon.”