TWO new almshouses have been officially opened at Ashbourne's Coopers Gardens – 45 years on from when the site was opened.
The properties, which were funded by the Old Trust with a grant from Derbyshire Dales District Council, were opened by Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire William Tucker on Friday.
He handed over the keys to the first of two new residents, George Thacker, 68, who has been living in a first-floor flat in Shawcroft but was 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 Ashbourne Leisure Centre, are designed to meet modern standards for disabled living and also feature rooms in the roof space for carers to stay over.
Mr Thacker, who hopes to complete his move in the next 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 MP Patrick McLoughlin and MEP Andrew Lewer, Mr Tucker said: "It's 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 who live in them.
"I don't think there is a finer example of almshouses than here in Ashbourne. I think the fact that, in Ashbourne alone, there are 46 is staggering.
"On behalf of everyone in Derbyshire, I would like to thank and congratulate all who have been involved and who have 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 pair to open round off the three-phase project to complete housing provision for elderly and disabled people.
The trust, which dates back to the 16th century when it raised money to build the former Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Church Street, now manages 46 almshouses in the town.
The first ones were opened in Coopers Close, off Hall Lane, in 1969.
Coopers Gardens was named after benefactor Hilda Stonier Cooper.
To build the first six bungalows, a £15,000 bridge had to be constructed over the Henmore Brook.
As well as managing the town's almshouses, which are allocated to residents by the trust members, the organisation has close links with the school. Four members are part of its governing body.