A NEW pair of almshouses have been officially opened at Coopers Gardens, 45 years on from when the site was first opened.
The two properties, which were funded by the Old Trust with a grant from Derbyshire Dales District Council, were opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire William Tucker on Friday.
Mr Tucker handed the keys over to the first of two new residents, George Thacker, 68, who has been living in a first floor flat in Shaw Croft but is struggling with the stairs due to a lung condition.
The pair of bungalows, which are part of the third and final phase of building at the cluster of houses near to Ashbourne Leisure Centre, are designed to meet modern standards for disabled living and also feature an en-suite room in the roof space for carers to stay over.
Mr Thacker, who hopes to be moved in in around three weeks, said: "I would like to thank all the people who have helped me to get this place, it will make a big difference to me and I honestly feel quite moved to have it.
As he unveiled a commemorative plaque in front of a gathering of guests that included civic leaders, MP Patrick McLoughlin and MEP Andrew Lewer, Mr Tucker said: "It is a great pleasure to be invited to open these new almshouses.
"I suppose in many respects you could say there is something a bit old fashioned about almshouses, but clearly they are vitally important and provide a wonderful service for the people that live in them.
"I don't think there is a finer example of that than here in Ashbourne and I think the fact that in Ashbourne here alone there are 46 houses overall is staggering.
"On behalf of everyone in Derbyshire I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who has been involved and who has worked on this excellent project."
The first six bungalows built at Coopers Gardens were completed in 1979 and these were followed by another two in 1991. The latest two to open round off the three-phase project to complete housing provision for the elderly and disabled on the site.
The trust, which dates back to the 16th Century when it raised money to build the former Queen Elizabeths Grammer School in Church Street, now manages 46 almshouses in the town and its first nine were set up in Coopers Close, off Hall Lane, in 1969.
To build the first six bungalows at Coopers Gardens, which were named after benefactor Miss Hilda Stoneier Cooper, a £15,000 bridge had to be constructed over the Henmore and the first properties, which cost the trust £60,000.
As well as managing the town's almshouses, which are allocated to new residents by the trust members, the organisation has close links with Queen Elizabeths Grammar School and four members are part of its governing body.