THE new Selby War Memorial Hospital and Civic Centre have been officially opened by a member of the royal family.

The Duke of Gloucester met developers, staff, patients and friends of the hospital yesterday, when he unveiled a plaque and took a tour of the multi-million-pound facility.

The development cost £22 million, paid for by a partnership between the NHS and Selby District Council.

It took 18 months to build, after being in the planning stages for several years, and the first patients were moved into the hospital in June, while council workers moved into the new Civic Centre in August.

Former MP John Grogan met the duke, and said: “I was introduced to him as ‘the man who got the money together’, and he asked whether that involved pushing on the minister of health. He laughed when I told him I’d had to deal with four of them.”

Earlier this year, local community groups petitioned the NHS to retain the hospital’s war memorial name, leading to a public poll which overwhelmingly voted against changing the name.

Margaret Hewer, chair of the Friends of Selby War Memorial Hospital, said: “I think it’s wonderful to have a royal opening. I think it’s a lovely day for Selby, with a new hospital and people are very lucky that it was built at all.”

Speaking to the crowd, the duke congratulated the partnership on creating the facility, and said: “I must admit I am very intrigued by the idea of the two buildings being joined together.

“As an architect, I am always pleased to see architecture has a role to play in making hospitals more efficient and effective places to be unwell.

“I hope all who come here, whether to get better or pay their rates, will find the right organisation to help them here in this splendid new building.”

The duke was also presented with a pair of cufflinks to mark the occasion, and met a number of patients at the new hospital.

Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams left the Conservative Party Conference to attend the opening. He said: “I think it’s a real honour to have his royal highness in Selby to open what is a wonderful, state-of-the-art facility. It is an innovative project, conceived and delivered by Selby District Council, so hats off to them.”

Earlier the duke visited the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, in Pickering, where he toured new facilities and unveiled a plaque.