Handover of the gift of the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre by the Duke of Westminster

Today (21 June 2018), The Duke of Westminster handed over the gift of the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC).  It was received by the Prime Minister at a special event held in the presence of His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge.

The DNRC is an investment in clinical rehabilitation for the Armed Forces with the potential for a complementary civilian (ie ‘National’ facility) on the same site.  It is a £300m programme to provide a bespoke and purpose-built successor to the existing Defence rehabilitation establishment at Headley Court in Surrey treating injured soldiers, sailors and airmen.

The DNRC was the initiative of The 6th Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor, who led the charity fundraising drive with a personal founding gift of £70m.  

The Duke of Westminster, on behalf of his father who died in 2016, formally handed over the gift of the DNRC to The Prime Minister who accepted on behalf of the nation. 

The Prime Minister made a speech to thank everyone involved in bringing the centre to the nation which will provide world class rehabilitative facilities for our service men and women.

The Prime Minister had a tour of the Neurological and Complex Trauma Wing to see first-hand how the centre will help rebuild lives. She also met with the DNRC ambassadors, those who have worked on the site and NHS staff. 

The Duke of Westminster said: “My father served in the Reserve Army for 40 years and knew first-hand the high price that soldiers, sailors and airmen can pay – he wanted to do something to help.  Today, I am immensely proud to be handing over this hugely impressive new Defence facility made possible by his initiative and the tremendous support of others.  I hope that the DNRC’s full potential can be realised and, if that happens, it will be a remarkable legacy.”

The Duke of Cambridge was Patron of the DNRC appeal.  During the handover ceremony, The Duke of Cambridge made a speech, read the winning entry of the DNRC’s ‘A Poem to Remember’ national poetry competition, and unveiled a statue of Major General Sir Robert Jones, acknowledged as the founder of modern orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation.  He then met some of those involved in building the DNRC during a short reception.

Construction of the Defence facility started in 2015 and it will be treating patients by the end of this year.  

The Defence facility is a 95% new build centre of clinical excellence.  Its designs have been informed by close working with Headley Court, the Surgeon General, and patient groups.  It specifically draws on the expertise in Defence medicine developed at Headley Court [over its nearly 70 years of existence] and will enable that to flourish and grow in a bespoke and state of the art new clinical facility. 

The Defence facility will be operated by the MoD.  Staff will start to transition from Headley Court to the DNRC – which is on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate, near Loughborough – later this summer.

The idea at the heart of the DNRC is that, by co-locating a Defence and a National (ie civilian) facility on the same site, sharing expertise and facilities, it will be possible to raise standards of clinical care.  This opportunity to bring together Defence medicine and its civilian/NHS counterpart is unique and potentially game-changing in the field of clinical rehabilitation.

With the Defence facility becoming fully functional later this year under the MoD, the proposals for the National facility are currently under consideration by Government.

A formal ‘opening’ of the Defence facility is anticipated to take place during 2019, coordinated by the MoD.

On the fundraising, to-date £270M has been raised from major donations by individuals, charitable foundations and companies.  The major donor campaign continues with the opportunity also for the public to get involved.  Anyone wishing to do so can donate – more details at www.thednrc.org.uk.


Media contact:

Emily Barnes, Ben Copithorne or Richard Pia at Camargue on 020 7636 7366 /  dnrc@camargue.uk 
Images and photography

A range of images and photography is available including aerial flyover footage of the site – please contact Camargue (as above).

About the DNRC

Please see full information at www.thednrc.org.uk.

Notes to Editors 

The Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) project is a remarkable initiative by the late 6th Duke of Westminster.  He served for over 40 years in the British Reserve Army and witnessed the price paid by many members of the armed forces during their service.  He felt strongly that we owe those who volunteer to fight for our countries, alongside forces from other nations, the best possible care and rehabilitation if they are injured during strenuous training or in conflict.  Efficient airlift, good body armour and remarkable medical capabilities in operational theatres mean that many more Servicemen and women are surviving on the battlefield than would have been the case even 10 years ago.  It is essential they are able to benefit from all that the fast-moving rehabilitation medicine scene is now offering – in terms of technology and science.  It is this belief that inspired him to look into how this could best be achieved and resulted in the concept of a DNRC – which he was determined to make happen.

In 2009, following a Government announcement, the Duke facilitated a major feasibility study to see what could be done.  It was undertaken at very senior level across the 4 principal UK Government Departments (Defence, Health, Work & Pensions and Culture, Media & Sport) and led by General Sir Tim Granville-Chapman (a former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff) as the Project Director and Chairman of the Board.  Amongst those on the Board are the Medical Director of the NHS, Dame Carol Black (now the Expert Adviser on Work and Health at the Department of Health), Lieutenant General Martin Bricknell, the Surgeon General and Air Vice Marshal (Retired) Tony Stables, Chairman of the Headley Court Trust.

The Study concluded that there was real merit in establishing a DNRC to serve the clinical rehabilitation needs of the armed forces and civilians.  There was a consistent view that the whole field of rehabilitation medicine could benefit from the co-location on one site of national (N) and Defence (D) establishments – given not least the fact that the armed forces, by common consent, do rehab extremely well.  The DNRC will combine neurological, complex trauma and a full suite of rehabilitative facilities together on one site, bringing benefits that could make the establishment unique in the world in many respects.  Such excellence in rehabilitation medicine will provide a significant platform for practical application and research and development (R&D) in what is now a fast-moving field of science and technology.  It would replace the existing Defence rehabilitation facility – Headley Court in Surrey. 

The feasibility study’s conclusions were endorsed by UK Ministers in the autumn of 2011 which led to seeking planning permission for the site that had been acquired (the Stanford Hall estate in Nottinghamshire) and initiating a major donor fundraising campaign to raise the capital.

The current status on the Defence (D) establishment and the National (N) opportunities

On 10 July 2014 the Government announced that construction of the Defence establishment would start in 2015 and that the existing Defence facility at Headley Court would move to the new Defence facility at Stanford when it was completed in 2018.  The build of the D is now nearing completion and is on track to allow patients  to be treated in the new bespoke establishment by the end of 2018 as planned.  When this happens, Headley Court in Surrey will close and its trustees have already put the estate on the market.  Details of progress on the construction are at: www.thednrc.org.uk.

At the same time the Government also announced that the opportunities relating to the national aspects of the DNRC would formally be explored in 2016.  Whilst this work lay with Government departments, it was duly enabled by the DNRC programme in that year.  The opportunities lie principally in:

o Patient care which could involve the construction of the first national clinical rehabilitation centre (63 beds) on the part of the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate (SHRE) reserved for this purpose, and sharing the expertise and facilities in the Defence establishment close by – to mutual advantage.

o R&D associated with the DNRC cohort of seriously wounded members of the armed forces with the likelihood of the early research themes (pan-UK and international as appropriate) being: neurocognitive assessment and intervention, frailty and trauma and neuromuscular and muscular skeletal injuries.

o Training and education of practitioners in this field of medicine based on the expertise that resides in Defence.

The strategic evidence gathering work on the N in 2016 centred on the major trauma centre in the East Midlands and was then extrapolated across NHS England on the basis of an independent study done by KPMG.  That work is now in the Government domain to ensure that the opportunity is formally considered.  There are 2 strands to exploring the opportunity.  The first is clinical which is being led by the East Midlands Trauma Centre (NUH) in Nottingham which involves a proper NHS outline business case (OBC) which has just started and will report in Jul 18.  The second is to ensure that the existing outline planning permission to allow construction of the first national clinical rehabilitation centre on the Stanford Hall estate (SHE) is converted into detailed permission by Oct 18 when the outline permission expires and is non-renewable.  Both these strands must be successfully achieved by the end of 2018 if the opportunity is not to be irretrievably lost.  Assuming it is not lost, construction of a national clinical facility on the SHRE site could be conceivable from 2020 onwards.


The target for the capital campaign is £300M.  To-date £270M has been raised from major donations by individuals, charitable foundations and companies, both in the UK and overseas.  The late 6th Duke contributed an initial £50M and the Grosvenor family has now increased that sum to £70M.  The DNRC charity is now actively calling for help and support from the public at large to complete the build with a national fundraising campaign, but in reality it is the major donations that will ensure achievement of the target in 2018.

Programme costs

The DNRC Programme cost of £300M covers the acquisition of the Midlands site (to accommodate both the D and N facilities), the full cost of construction of the D establishment, the cost of making all this happen in terms of planning permission (including for the N facility), project management etc.  It does not cover the running costs of the D establishment nor the capital and running costs of the N facility, both of which fall to Government (or a public/private arrangement in the case of the N).

A remarkable legacy

When the Defence establishment of the DNRC becomes operational at the end of 2018 it will have a dramatic impact on the lives of armed forces people and could be game-changing in the rehabilitation medicine field worldwide, not least as there is a strong likelihood of wider R&D interest regionally (Loughborough University nearby is prominent in sports medicine and increasingly involved in bio-mechanics) and internationally.  The ambition is for it to be the catalyst for the first ever specialist clinical rehabilitation centre for civilians (the ‘N’ in the DNRC) and that opportunity must be grasped in 2018 and 2019.  If the full DNRC opportunity is seized in this way, the late 6th Duke’s legacy will be truly remarkable and very appropriate in the wake of the Paralympic Games where the strong message – that where there is will power and resource, it is people’s ability rather than any disability which shines through – has been transmitted worldwide.

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Contacts for further information:

Ben Copithorne or Emily Barnes at Camargue on 020 7636 7366 or dnrc@camargue.uk