A £500,000 appeal has been launched to equip an extension to a hospice which will help it double the number of people it supports.

The fund-raising campaign got under way as the first sod was cut to mark the start of the work to build the £2.5 million development at St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph.

The much-loved hospice provides palliative care for patients in Denbighshire, Conwy and Flintshire.

The extension will increase the number of beds there from eight to 12 to cater for the growing demand for the vital services provided there and in the community.

The two-phase development is scheduled for completion in late-2019 and the focus now is fundraising an additional half a million pounds to cover the cost of specialist equipment and interior decoration to create a new state of the art clinical environment and a home from home for future patients, their carers and families.

The extra money is needed to pay for a new kitchen, medical devices, lifts, hoists, specialist beds and other equipment to assist people in their mobility.

The new hospice layout will include a separate patient entrance which will allow patients to be admitted in privacy and dignity instead of via the main entrance which is used by staff, visitors and the general public.

The existing reception area will be transformed into a modern and welcoming open-plan space, and the fundraising and lottery teams will now inhabit office space within the hospice itself allowing for greater internal communication.

St Kentigern president Lady Susan Langford said: “The extension is a major step for palliative care in the area.

“It’s important for the general public to remember that every penny that we make goes into the hospice.

“We have a good standing in the community; they’ve supported us for over 30 years and continue to do so and we’re very, very grateful to them.

“I want to thank everyone involved, for all the hard work and dedication that they put into the hospice: from chairmen, to nurses to volunteers. It is a huge but wonderful organisation and I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.”

St Kentigern, which opened in 1995, provides inpatient care, day care, outpatient, physiotherapy and occupational therapy services, plus bereavement support. The new investment will include premises for wider activities and an educational area.

The project will also include a café, which will be open to the public as well as patients and relatives, as well as new office space.

Chief Executive Iain Mitchell, said: “This is a very exciting development for us because we’ve been under pressure all year by increased referrals and not enough beds.

“There’s an increase in demand particularly for the more vulnerable and complex types of palliative care to build this unit for the future, with modern equipment, to make sure that we can deal with patients with dementia, patients who may be obese, patients who are frail and patients with different needs.

“It’s important that we build this building still with the same empathy of design, but still feel like a hospice rather than a hospital ward and hence the reason why it is designed so that all bedrooms will have access to the landscaped gardens and there will also be two internal courtyards which will bring more light into the area.”

He added: “The new-look hospice should be considered as a community resource for the whole of the Vale of Clwyd and beyond.

“We’re trying to weld the hospice ethos into the community that’s so powerfully supported us, allowing us to build this from their contributions.

“Each room will cost around £35,000 to refurbish properly, and therefore we are looking for the continued generosity of the community and if people wish to contribute more we will certainly welcome it.

“We will also be looking at trying to get some corporate support for some of the specialist equipment, particularly things that go into the rooms after the construction has been done, and we need to try and secure as much money as we possibly can.”

Jim O’Toole who took over as chairman from Mr Trefor Jones last autumn, said: “It’s wonderful that we will have this facility,

“We have the funds for the build itself but obviously there’s a lot of new equipment needed for it, and we will be launching appeals specifically for individual items, so if people wanted to sponsor a particular piece of equipment then they can do that.

“We will need everything really – from the kitchen, which is obviously an important area, to medical devices – we will need lifts, hoists, specialist beds and other equipment to assist people in their mobility, all that kind of thing.”