Prince William Praises New East Midlands Military Treatment Unit
10 November 2017, 10:07 | Updated: 10 November 2017, 10:09
The Duke of Cambridge has revealed how Prince George was left "very envious", after he got to drive a digger during a visit to the site of a new rehabilitation centre for injured military personnel in Leicestershire.
Based at Stanford Hall, near Loughborough, the Defence National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), which it is hoped will be one of the best in the world for injured members of the Armed Forces, was launched by the late Duke of Westminster.
A patron of the £300 million initiative, William joined hundreds of guests at a fundraising black tie gala organised by the City Veterans' Network, at the Imperial War Museum in London on Thursday.
During a pre-dinner speech William described the centre, which is four times the size of Headley Court and is due to become operational next year, as a "fantastic facility".
"I have been repeatedly impressed by both the speed and ambitious scale of this endeavour," he told the 300 guests from the forces, and figures from the financial sector.
"I was present at the end of 2014 when the first building was demolished to make way for the new construction.
"George was very envious as I got to drive a digger."
The DNRC, funded by charitable donations, was a project launched by the late Duke of Westminster, who William told the gala was a "dedicated reservist".
"In his closing days as a senior reservist, he saw the terrible price paid by some of the men and women of our armed forces when injured serving the nation," William added.
"He wanted to ensure that these men and women received the very best clinical help to get them on their journey back into work and into life beyond injury.
"Gerald resolved to do something about it and in typical fashion, he launched this remarkable initiative himself.
"With a personal gift of £50 million, he made the first step towards building what will become a 21st century version of Headley Court."
Stanford Hall was chosen for its central location, size, rural setting and proximity to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where wounded members of the armed forces are treated prior to clinical rehabilitation.
Under a Spitfire suspended from the ceiling, William told guests how a key vision of the DNRC is about getting those who suffered life-changing injuries back into work, and restoring their sense of independence.
He also revealed how the DNRC will also treat civilians who have similar levels of injury, adding that "no such equivalent currently exists in the country".
William thanked the City Veterans' Network, which was formed in 2014 to unite serviceman and women across the City and Financial sector and raise funds for service charities, with donations from the gala going to the DNRC.
"In backing the DNRC this evening, you are playing your part in contributing to the creation of a world class facility, the very least that our veterans and those still serving deserve," he said.
"You are playing a vital part in the creation of a national legacy, your support will benefit the country for decades to come.
"This was the late Duke of Westminster's ultimate goal, and with your help, together we can make it a reality."