A HAMPSHIRE hospice is today celebrating a £506,000 windfall that will enable it to complete a major expansion scheme.

Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington is one of 176 facilities across the UK that will share a £60m hand-out from the Government, which is striving to improve facilities for terminally-ill patients.

Oakhaven is being transformed by a multi-million-pound facelift that began several years ago.

The first phase, which included physiotherapy rooms, bereavement counselling quarters and an education centre for nurses studying palliative care, was opened by award-winning actress Susan Hampshire in 2010.

Last year saw the completion of a new £1.2m unit that enabled Oakhaven to increase the number of in-patient beds from eight to 12.

Now the hospice has been handed a major Department of Health grant towards a £740,000 facility called the Living Well Resource Centre, due to open next spring.

Those set to benefit include newly-diagnosed patients who would not normally qualify for hospice care.

Oakhaven’s chief executive, Andrew Ryde, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been awarded this grant, which will help us to better support people with life-limiting illness, as well as their friends and families.”

Every year UK hospices care for 360,000 patients, relatives and carers.

An Oakhaven spokesman said; “The majority of this care is provided in people’s own homes but people can also access day care, in-patient care and outpatient services within hospice buildings.

“Hospices are reliant on voluntary donations and collectively have to raise more than £1.5m every day from their local communities.”

Oakhaven costs £3m a year to run but only 13 per cent of this is provided by the NHS. The rest comes from donations and fundraising.

The late Phoebe Coates founded the hospice in the grounds of her home following the death of her husband John in 1987.

Oakhaven factfile:

The hospice, which occupies a four-acre site in Lower Pennington Lane, Lymington, opened in 1992.

Oakhaven takes patients from the age of 16 and has about 180 people on its books at any one time.

Many are suffering from cancer but staff also treat a wide range of other conditions, including heart disease and various forms of dementia.

About 50 per cent of people admitted to the in-patient unit are able to return home once their symptoms have been brought under control.