THE Princess Royal will be making a welcome return to Dorothy House next month to officially open the hospice's £2.4m extension.

She will visit on November 9 and will spend an hour-and-a-half touring the hospice, meeting patients and unveiling a plaque.

Chief executive of the Winsley-based hospice Sarah Whitfield said: "We're delighted she has agreed to come. She has visited regularly since the very early days in the 1980s.

"Last time she came was three years ago and we showed her the plans for the extensions and she was very interested in them.

"I said the new wings would probably open in two year's time and asked her back and she said in her judgement it would take three years - and the Princess was correct."

Princess Anne, who is the hospice's official Royal Visitor, will begin her tour in the improved in-patient unit, where work has included the provision of refurbished bedrooms, a relatives' overnight stay room and a large bathroom with a therapeutic spa bath.

She will have one-to-one chats with some of the patients before visiting the new out-patient wing, which has treatment, family and counselling rooms as well as a chapel.

The Princess will see physiotherapy and complementary therapy sessions and also meet the architects and builders.

She will then visit the other new wing, which houses the education department and includes the Roper room, which is a lecture room, and the Brownsword library.

The visit will end at the refurbished day centre and then the Princess will go on to a reception, where she will be presented with a basket of flowers by two children whose mother was cared for in the in-patient unit.

Funds for the new buildings have come from charitable trusts, major donors and legacies through the Space to Care Appeal, and nearly all the money has now been raised.

The hospice is hosting two open evenings, on November 16 and November 21, from 4-7pm, for anyone who would like to have a tour around the new wings.

Mrs Whitfield said: "The few people who've come so far have been very impressed. It is beautifully designed and constructed and although it has been built into our grounds the architect has made the most of the wonderful views."