A NEW multi-million pound cancer centre, which was made possible by a generous legacy from a Poole businessman, is now open.

The Robert White Centre, which is an extension of the Poole Hospital-based Dorset Cancer Centre, was officially opened by actor and county resident Martin Clunes, who unveiled a commemoration stone at Dorset County Hospital.

He was among 200 guests who gathered at the Dorchester hospital. Charity donors, staff, patient representatives and health officials also attended the opening ceremony.

The £9 million unit is equipped with the latest linear accelerator, which enables patients to receive the best-possible radiotherapy treatment. This means that cancer patients in the north, south and west of the county can receive this care in their local hospital, instead of having to travel to Poole for treatment.

It was funded in part by a generous legacy from Poole businessman Robert White.

Mr White was treated for cancer at the Dorset Cancer Centre at Poole Hospital and sadly lost his battle in November 2015.

Before his death, he had resolved to support the hospital and its county-wide cancer services to benefit others and decided he would fund a new cancer unit, now named The Robert White Centre. The facility also includes a £1.75 million Cancer and Haematology Outpatients Department, funded by the Cancer Appeal run by Dorset County Hospital Charity.

Martin Clunes said: “It was my privilege to be able to officially open the new Robert White Centre.

“The incredibly generous support from the community for the DCH Cancer Appeal, as well as Robert’s generosity, leaves a remarkable legacy for patients with cancer in Dorset.”

Dr Mike Bayne, who treated Robert White and is oncology consultant at Poole Hospital, joined guests at the official opening.

He said: “It was a privilege to be Robert White’s oncologist, and I am delighted to see that his amazing legacy has enabled the opening of the Robert White Centre here today.

“His amazing gift has enabled us to create cancer services which match the best in the world and makes a step change in care for all our patients and their families battling cancer.”

Simon Pearson, head of fundraising at DCH Charity, expressed his thanks, adding: “We have received extraordinary support from across our community for the Cancer Appeal. Thank you to everyone for their generosity. This support will benefit cancer patients at DCH for years to come.”

The cancer outpatients unit is already in operation, and the new radiotherapy unit is expected to open in early 2019. Overall, it is estimated each year around 5,000 cancer patients and their families will benefit from the services in the centre.