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Govt pledges support for Gibraltar's 'sanctuary in London'

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo visited the three Victorian buildings in Norfolk Square which have been stripped bare and linked together to create the new Calpe House in London. 

"To the patients of Calpe House, may it be their recovery," Mr Picardo said as he raised his glass of champagne in a special toast in the communal area set to become its hub. Moments earlier, in the presence of the project managers City Square, architects Marek, patients and Calpe House trustees including its director Director and Vice Chairman Albert Poggio, he had unveiled the new Calpe House logo outside the building now visible on the working facade. 

The Chief Minister pledged his government's support to the project and thanked those involved in creating what he described as a "small sanctuary in the heart of London".

"I know this is going to be your work but in effect it is going to be something that belongs to all the Gibraltarians who will make this a reality through their charitable institutions. I hope that principally it is a place of calm and of recovery for everybody who needs to use it," he said. 

As Mr Poggio accompanied the Chief Minister, wearing safety helmets and vests on the worksite of the 155 year old buildings, he acknowledged that moving to larger premises to meet the demand was something the trustees had known would one day become inevitable.

"But we could not be here today without the support of the government," he emphasised.

Over the past 30 years Calpe House has become a 'home from home' for many Gibraltarians and Mr Poggio is confident the new premises will soon mirror this. 

With the buildings purchased by the Calpe House charitable trust a new campaign was launched locally in December under the banner 'Calpe House Needs Your Help'. 

The aim is to raise some £6m which is what the refurbishment of all three buildings will cost. 

The number of rooms soon to be available will be increased to 37 in new modern facilities with lifts, kitchenettes, and communal area. 

The works are expected to be completed by March 2017.

Mr Poggio who is heading the refurbishment and campaign said he was confident the new buildings would be ready on time.

Having already seen the plans, the Chief Minister, was obviously overwhelmed by his visit.

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