A GIFT of land worth close to £1million has moved one couple's dream of opening a disability day centre closer to a reality.

Rachael and Ian Scott-Hunter said they were in tears when they heard of the 'incredible' donation to the multi-million project.

The couple, inspired by their own experience caring for daughter Alexandra who has severe learning difficulties, hope the centre will plug the gap in services and make a stand for people with severe learning difficulties who have faced countless cuts to their care.

Plans have been drawn up for the now £2.5million centre - named The Alexandra House of Joy - and, thanks to a donation of just under one acre of land, looks set to be built in Bicester.

Mrs Scott-Hunter said: "It is so overwhelming and just incredible that we have been gifted the land.

"I can't believe it."

The 71-year-old said the donation, from a man who does not want to be identified, knocks off nearly£1million pounds from the fundraising appeal.

She added: "We just burst in to tears when we heard the gentleman say [about the land], we are in complete awe."

The couple's vision comes from their experiences of caring for disabled daughter Alexandra, 45, and their battle against cuts to day centres by Oxfordshire County Council.

The cuts saw the number of council-run centres fall from 22 to eight across Oxfordshire last year and groups such as the one Alexandra attends at Bicester Health and Wellbeing Centre are now shared between the elderly and those with learning disabilities.

Mrs Scott-Hunter added: "We ourselves know firsthand the huge importance of daytime support and respite care services. They are invaluable.

"We feel that our group has been marginalised and discriminated against because they can’t speak up for themselves."

Since the cuts, daytime support centres have been merged to included both vulnerable elderly residents and adults with learning disabilities.

At the time, Oxfordshire County Council said it could not afford to keep funding the £9.3m service, and under the new plans, this would fall to £6.16m - saving about £3.14m a year by 2019.

The council also said it was confident the new services will provide tailored support to meet needs.

But the Scott-Hunters have chosen to set up their own centre which they say will provide daytime support for adults with severe learning disabilities, as well as end of life care and vital respite for carers like themselves - believed to be the first of its kind for Oxfordshire.

Plans include six respite care beds, a music room, sensory room and gardens, activity room and in the future a hydrotherapy pool.

The pair have a team of people supporting the project including Sister Frances Dominica, founder of Helen and Douglas House children’s hospice in Oxford.

She said: “I think what they want to do is so very important, because the age group they are looking to help have so little on offer.

“They have my very best wishes and prayers for what is a wonderful project and very much needed.

“I know it will be a very loving setting.”

There is also a board of trustees for the centre - many of whom they know through their church community of St Andrews, Linton Road in Oxford.

The group are now pushing ahead with fundraising after gaining charity status earlier this year. The Charity Commission has given the project three years to raise £2.5million for the centre.

A call has also gone out for keen fundraisers and those who can provide expert help to Alexandra House of Joy on raising the necessary funds.

Mrs Scott-Hunter said: "I am so grateful to the people who have come forward to help and very excited.

"I cannot wait for the day that those doors open.

"These wonderful people are so misunderstood and I just want them to be treated as equals and get good service and not face cuts after cuts.

"If you have got enough faith, you can move mountains."

To get in touch with the couple or to donate to the project see alexandrahouseofjoy.co.uk/supportus