THE Duke of York came to Oxford to officially open the city’s £109m cancer centre.

Although the centre at the Churchill Hospital opened in 2009, it was not until yesterday that a member of the royal family had been able to come and officially open it.

Prince Andrew was taken on a tour of the centre and met with some of its patients.

Margaret Pimm, 76, from Eynsham, was at the centre to have her lymph nodes removed.

She said: “My grandson met Aung San Suu Kyi when she came to Oxford so I’m keeping up with him. The centre is marvellous and I cannot fault the staff and the nurses. They are so obliging.

“I have been here a week and I am going home tomorrow. The staff here do everything you ask them.”

As he opened the centre, unveiling a plaque, Prince Andrew said the NHS was highly respected around the world and we should be “justifiably proud” of it.

He said: “I am delighted to be deputising for the Queen, to mark the opening of this magnificent facility.

“We are never satisfied with our health system but let me tell you it is highly respected around the rest of the world.

“The health service is something we should be justifiably proud of and what you are doing here, is an exemplary example of that, bringing together technology, skill and care.”

The Headington centre opened to the public in March, 2009. It includes 217 beds and 10 new operating theatres.

Extra equipment was made possible by a £2m fundraising campaign and includes computer-integrated theatres, which enable surgeons to carry out complex keyhole surgery. Up to 100,000 patients are treated at the centre each year and it has around 800 staff. Dame Fiona Caldicott, chairman of the trust, said: “It is very fitting that the Duke should have come here in the Jubilee year. “Planning for this building began in the year 2000. And I would like to pay tribute to all our clinicians and staff who have worked tirelessly to get it built. Buildings of this scale could not have happened or been realised without the support we have had from donors and fundraisers.”

Anita MacQueen , matron at the Jane Ashley centre the Duke visited, said: “The new centre is brilliant, if you compare the bays to the John Radcliffe they are so much bigger and it makes the patients’ experience much better.”