AFTER years of hard work and fundraising, a "beautiful and unique" support centre for cancer patients has finally opened in Larbert.

The Maggies' facility, situated on the grounds of the Forth Valley Royal Hospital, will offer a "lifeline" to families in central Scotland dealing with the impact of cancer treatments.

Thousands of people living in Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Falkirk are to benefit from the service, which was officially opened on Wednesday, March 15, by former first minister Jack McConnell.

Previously, Wee County patients would have to travel well beyond central Scotland for care and support, which is now much closer to home.

Breast cancer charity Walk the Walk was the principal funder of Maggie's Forth Valley, pledging a £3million grant from money raised through its iconic night-time fundraising event: The MoonWalk Scotland.

Indeed, such was the value of their efforts that the centre itself was named after Walk the Walk founder and chief executive Nina Barough CBE.

She said: "This is such a magnificent day for Maggie's, because they're able to bring their service to Larbert and I think very quickly people here will wonder how they managed without it.

"It's also a fabulous day for Walk the Walk, our MoonWalkers and everyone who has contributed. To see their efforts manifested into something tangible is breathtaking.

"This is also one of my most favourite Maggie's – the tranquillity, the loch and the building nestled amongst trees with a beautiful outlook.

"As an organisation, Walk the Walk can now pass the baton on to Maggie's to help the many thousands of people coming through the doors.

"It's not about me, but it was a huge honour and surprise to find out that the centre is named after me and I'm still a bit discombobulated."

Maggie's supports those facing tough questions, exhausting treatment and difficult emotions as a result of their condition.

Their programme of support is said to strengthen the physical and emotional wellbeing of patients, while aiding families and friends to face their own challenges.

Laura Lee, the charity's chief executive, said: "The opening of Maggie's Forth Valley at The Nina Barough Building, our 20th centre, is a landmark for Maggie's and hopefully an important day for people of Forth Valley living with cancer.

"They now have a beautiful and unique building in a stunning setting where I know they will find the calm they need while going through what is probably one of the hardest experiences of their lives."

Mr McConnell, added: "More people than ever before are living longer with and beyond cancer and the support offered by Maggie's centres are needed even more now than it was in the past. For the residents of the Forth Valley area, this Maggie's Centre, with its expert staff and evidence based programme of support will be nothing short of a lifeline on their doorstep."