A new £5 million optometry and clinical skills centre created in a Grade II-listed former NHS laundry has been officially opened. Award-winning author Nathan Filer declared the facility open at UWE Bristol's Glenside Campus at an event attended by students, staff and guests.
The vibrant new centre provides modern teaching and learning spaces for trainee paramedics, occupational therapy students, nurses and undergraduates studying the new BSc (Hons) Optometry programme, the only course of its type in the West of England.
Work on the redevelopment, which included the retention of original heritage features, began in December 2017 and was completed last month in time for use at the start of the academic year.
Nathan returned to his former university - where he studied mental health nursing - for the opening event after touring the centre and other refurbished areas of the campus including the children's focused nursing simulation suite. He drew on his mental health nursing knowledge to write his debut novel The Shock of the Fall, which became a Sunday Times bestseller and earned the Costa Book of the Year award in 2013.
The author, a UWE Bristol honorary graduate, said: “I was thrilled to be invited to return to Glenside, where I spent a defining part of my life and made many fond memories. The campus has been improved significantly since I qualified as a nurse here and I'm enormously impressed by the new purpose-built facilities students can now access to prepare them for roles in some vitally important professions.”
Professor Steven Neill, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, said: “This extra 1,400 square metres of practical learning space will be transformational for our students, offering a flexible environment for a range of programmes including our new optometry degree which has proven incredibly popular and addresses a gap in the market regionally.
“It's also pleasing that our considerate renovation of this historic space has been recognised with a SKA silver rating by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.”