Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh has officially opened Canterbury Christ Church University’s Verena Holmes Building and the Kent and Medway Medical School (KMMS) at its Pears building on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus.
The £65million Verena Holmes Building is one of the largest science, technology, engineering, health and medicine education facilities in the south east, and incorporates the Kent and Medway Medical School (KMMS), a joint collaboration between Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent.
It is named after Ashford-born Verena Holmes, one of the country’s most pioneering female mechanical engineers, reflecting the University’s ambition to increase diversity and widen opportunities in STEM education and careers.
During her visit to Canterbury Christ Church University The Duchess of Edinburgh met with staff and students in the new industry-leading medical and health simulation suites, engineering labs and sports science facilities, as well as viewing the Tree of Trees sapling, a gift from the late Queen Elizabeth II to the University, as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which is now planted on campus.
Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh to our campus today to formally open the Verena Holmes Building.
“It is not just a facility for the University and the Kent and Medway Medical School, but for the entire south east region. It provides state-of-the-art equipment and technology for our staff and students and also space for experimentation, research and collaboration with our partners in the health sector, sports and engineering industries, local businesses and the wider community.
“This building would not have happened without the support of an incredible number of organisations and people and we thank everyone involved for helping to develop this building and the disciplines within it.
“But ultimately it is not about buildings, but about people. It’s about the University’s commitment to social justice. Ensuring that we increase the participation of women in engineering and STEM subjects; ensuring that anyone wishing to practice medicine has the opportunity to do so, regardless of background and experience. The building is an enabler for all of us to achieve wider societal objectives and I am really very proud of what we have achieved here collectively.”
In the afternoon, University of Kent Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Karen Cox welcomed Her Royal Highness to Kent and Medway Medical School’s (KMMS) Pears Building on the University's Canterbury campus. After meeting staff, and students from the School’s first three cohorts, Her Royal Highness unveiled a plaque to officially launch the School.
Following the unveiling, staff and students gathered for a celebration with those who have made the School possible including NHS colleagues, benefactors and representatives of the wider community of Kent and Medway.
Professor Chris Holland, Founding Dean of Kent and Medway Medical School said: “Today has been a really joyful moment in the School's journey. After the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been really important to finally have the opportunity to thank those that have helped the School open.”
Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor of University of Kent, said: “I was delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness to the Kent and Medway Medical School today. In the short time it has been open, the School has established itself as one of the most important facilities for medical training in the region, whilst also providing one of the best medical school experiences in the country. I hope Her Royal Highness has gained a sense of our ambition to not only train doctors of the highest calibre but to help transform health care provision in Kent and Medway.”
Krzysztof Mokrzycki, third year medical student and president of the student medical society, said: “Kent and Medway Medical School is what medical education strives to be. We can put into practice everything we are taught from the very first term and make a difference to a community that is desperate for doctors and other medical professionals. That’s what makes me proud to be a KMMS Student; that we’re already making a difference to the community around us.”