Press release from the Merlin Centre:

According to a Camelot survey of its Lotto millionaire winners, hot tubs are the most popular buy, but one Cornish winner can now claim to have funded the country’s largest and most expensive “hot tub” and this week the Merlin MS Centre took possession of its extra special gift.

Truro grandfather Peter Congdon donated £1 million towards a new hydrotherapy pool for the Centre, after winning £13.5 million on the Camelot Lotto. Mr Congdon, 70, wanted to fund a new facility in memory of his wife Rosemary, who had MS.

On December 20, Brady Construction Services officially handed over the finished building which stands alongside the Charity’s existing Centre, between St. Austell and Truro on the main A390, after completing the nine-month project. The total cost of the project was £1.3 million.

Retired Centre Manager Loraine Long, who oversaw the project and saw its near completion just before she retired on December 10, said: “I am delighted to be able to see the completion of our new hydrotherapy pool. This was the dream of our founders, Derek and Eileen Murphy, but we have never been in a financial position to build such a facility. Peter’s amazing donation has seen their dream realised and for me being able to see this project delivered this month – just as I retire, is a lovely legacy to leave,” she added.

Mr Congdon said:” It is a very proud moment for me and my family to see the pool finished – it looks amazing and I know it will bring support to lots of people in Cornwall who use the other facilities at the Centre.

The steel-framed building, covered in cedar wood cladding, is situated approximately 20 metres from the existing Centre. The 8 x 4 metre hydrotherapy pool is a continuous depth of 1.25 metres and has a spa and jets. There are accessible steps into the water with non-slip tiles surrounding the area. The pool is kept at a constant temperature of between 32-34° Celsius and normally will have up to eight people at any one time. There are ceiling hoists from large accessible changing areas and disabled toilets.

The exterior parking area has a lowered pavement area to allow better access for people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters and there is an accessible footpath to the main entrance and from the fire exits. The pool will be available to registered service users and  anyone with a disability or a long-term neurological condition.

Hydrotherapy can be of enormous benefit to people with a range of different health conditions and the therapy team at the Centre will be able to deliver group and one to one sessions to improve the health and well-being of people who have neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Stroke.

The Charity’s physiotherapy team will be offering 45-minute aqua therapy classes from Tuesday to Thursday. On a Monday and Friday, it will be a supervised session for clients to do their own exercises and enjoy the pool but not a led exercise class – all sessions must be booked in advance.

The Charity was able to secure additional funding from grant making trusts and is continuing to fundraise for equipment.