IT WAS the moment they had all been waiting for.

Wessex Heartbeat has spent two years raising money and support to make their dream of a new young adult cardiac unit at Southampton General Hospital a reality.

Having joined forces with the Daily Echo, the charity’s mammoth mission of raising £500,000 was completed earlier this year thanks to the support of thousands.

And now the charity has swapped collection tins for sledgehammers and hard hats as work began on the ward, which will transform the hospital experience for thousands of 16 to 30-year-old cardiac patients when it opens in November.

It will be the first of its kind in the UK, as it is among the hospital’s other cardiac units, so that the same staff can stay with patients as they get older, providing them with continuity of care.

It will have a communal room with exercise machines, TVs and games consoles, a kitchen so that patients can make their own food and drinks, and 17 beds in individual rooms with en suite bathrooms and in |larger wards.

Alison Farrell, Wessex Heartbeat’s chief executive, said: “It’s awesome because the young adult cardiac unit has been wanted for so many years and finally we can see that it’s actually happening.

“We know how much that means to patients and that makes you feel really good about everybody who has supported the appeal and all of us that have worked hard to make it happen.

“This would not have happened without the support of the Daily Echo, who have helped us to raise awareness and helped us to raise the money we have desperately needed.

“There will be nowhere else in the country where you have children, young adults and adult cardiac services co-located to provide more continuity of care for congenital patients. They will see the same staff which is hugely important.”

But work has not finished for the charity.

They are still raising money to fill the ward with equipment and they are appealing to businesses who can provide items including a microwave, a TV, a good quality exercise bike, games consoles and CD and MP3 players.They are also looking to set up support groups who can fundraise throughout the year to keep the unit going.

l For more information or to donate, call 023 8070 |6095 or email .