A £3.25MILLION cancer centre is steadily rising up from the ground and on course to treat patients by Christmas.

The campaign to build the state-of-the-art centre at Colchester Hospital, and supported by The Daily Gazette, has enabled construction work to start on the first of two elements to the facility.

This started in January and this is due for completion later this year, with the building housing the chemotherapy, radiotherapy and haematology suite.

It has been called The Collingwood Centre, after the name was chosen by a donor who gave £1million to the fundraising appeal, spearheaded by the Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity (CoHoC).

Head of fundraising Caroline Bates said: “There wasn’t a lot to see for quite a few weeks but now the steels are going up, that is quite exciting and it is beginning to take shape and there is more to see.

“As far as I am aware it is all on track to open before Christmas, by the time it is fitted and finished.”

Mrs Bates said the £1million donation made a “huge difference” to the campaign - which is now just £200,000 away from its target.

She added she was confident that money could be raised.

The Collingwood Centre is not the donor’s name but means something to his family.

The second element of the project will house the Wellness Centre for cancer patients to receive complimentary treatment, such as counselling.

Although work hasn’t started on it, this is due to begin within weeks and will open this year.

Mrs Bates said: “This is a single storey building near the front of the hospital. We talked to a lot of patient groups and a lot of people didn’t particularly want to come back to the radiotherapy or chemotherapy suite after they had finished that treatment.

“They would rather have a separate area so the building is separate to the other building but will still be part of the Cancer Centre.

“It is part of the redevelopment of the front of the hospital.”

One of the supporting steel girders had the words Starlight Walk painted onto it by the women who organised the Colchester fundraising event for 10 years.

They raised around £50,000 for CoHoc.

Despite the progress of Cancer Centre project, the fundraising campaign is still live and the remaining £200,000 will be needed for the finishing touches.

More information can be found at www.colchesteripswichcharity.org.uk/.