Britain’s best-loved comedian was in best ‘Del Boy’ form from the the first words of his opening speech at the £2.8 million Wendover base.
“ It’s a great day,” he said. “The sort of day to put a firework down George Osborne’s trousers and say ‘How’s that for inflation?”
And he toasted the occasion in typical style: “To the MS centre – lovely jubbly.”
Sir David, patron of the centre, had nothing but praise for staff and volunteers at the plush Oakwood Close facility, and in particular for major donor fundraiser Sue Barber.
“I was amazed when I saw the size of the centre,” he said. “I asked Sue how she knew what was needed for the centre and she said because she listened to what people said and because so many people were involved.
“People who make theatres and governments should realise that they are so up themselves. They should get to people at the sharp end and talk to them.
“Sue talked to doctors, physios, patients and that’s why it’s the size it is – she was wise enough to take advice from the people who really matter.”
The comic hero of Only Fools And Horses explained his involvement in the MS cause, saying: “It’s all my wife’s fault. A friend of my wife had MS a few years ago and I didn’t know what it was. She met Sue Barber at the RAF base and my wife put the thumbscrews on me. Seriously, I met a lot of people suffering and learnt a lot about it and realised they needed support.
“I thought my profile might stimulate other people who might give to people in desperate need.” The centre’s offical opening was attended by VIPS from around the region, including the Lord Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, chairman of the trustees Nick Brown, Aylesbury MP David Lidington and Vale MP John Bercow.
After the official cutting of the ribbon, Sir David was accompanied into the building by patient Charlotte Brown, who held the Olympic torch she carried earlier in the year.
Her husband Nick said the centre near RAF Halton was ‘built on hope, worry, enthusiasm and determination’.
“We want to be a centre of excellence helping MS sufferers to live life the the full,” he added.
Nearly 600 people currently attend the centre for treatment from six counties in the Chilterns and surrounding area. The ‘shed’ mentioned by Sir David was a portable building which had previously catered for patients’ needs.
The increased space – 1,300 sq metres compared the old building’s 500 sq metres – will provide state-of-the-art facilities such as a double hyperbaric chamber to provide oxygen therapy, which helps alleviate some of the distressing symptoms suffered by patients.
In addition to an open treatment area, individual rooms will provide privacy and a hydrotherapy pool will offer a new treatment option which will help patients maintain mobility and increase general health.
Louise Wakelam, head of physiotherapy, said: “In 2011 the clinical team delivered 13,336 treatments to enable people with MS to live life to the full despite their condition.
“In 2012 it will cost over £500,000 to fund the work of the MS Centre.”
Multiple Sclerosis is an incurable, debilitating, degenerative neurological condition that affects 100,000 people in the UK. There are an estimated 2,700 people diagnosed with MS in the centre’s catchment area.