The Duke’s idea

The idea of creating a 21st century version of the existing Defence rehab centre, Headley Court in Surrey, in a new location to serve the future needs of serving members of the Armed Forces came from the 6th Duke of Westminster.

He raised it in the MoD in the late summer of 2008 with the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff for whom he was working at that time as the senior reservist in Defence as a Major General.  The Duke had served in the Reserve Army for 40 years and knew, first hand, the high price that members of the Armed Forces can pay for serving the nation.  He wanted to do something about it and ensure that seriously injured sailors, soldiers and members of the RAF would feel looked after and get the best possible care.

The idea was subsequently discussed with the Defence Secretary (Des, now Lord, Browne) who supported the Duke’s idea but asked whether he could at the same time ‘do something for the nation too’.  This was put to the Duke who agreed.

Meetings followed in the Vice Chief’s office involving Dame Carol Black (then the Government’s adviser at DWP), the Surgeon General and Arup.  They examined the basic feasibility of what was being proposed in terms of the clinical rehabilitation field of medicine.  

The notion of a Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) programme was devised and put to the Duke at the end of 2008.  In 2009 it was developed with the other government departments and was put to Parliament in a written Ministerial Statement in June 2009.  That statement heralded the start of a year-long study in 2010, funded by the Duke, to examine the concept across government in detail.