IT HAS helped to spread the best medical knowledge across the globe and it’s also helped scores of people closer to home – and now a state-of-the-art conference centre in Basingstoke has celebrated its tenth anniversary.

The Ark Centre, in the grounds of Basingstoke hospital, in Aldermaston Road, marked the milestone occasion with a special party for fundraisers, volunteers and supporters.

The £5million facility, funded largely through donations, was the brainchild of pioneering and world-renowned Basingstoke-based surgeon Merv Rees, who said that to this day, he still has a great feeling of pride when walking into the centre.

He told The Gazette : “There is no better day for me than if I have organised a meeting with surgeons from around the country to come to Basingstoke, and they all say: ‘Wow, how have you got this on your doorstep?’ Well, we very much got it through the good people of north Hampshire.”

The Ark now hosts 1,700 events for more than 70,000 delegates per year. It also provides conference and training facilities to NHS trusts and other medical departments across the South of England.

Mr Rees said: “The original mission statement was for a centre of excellence for the sharing of medical knowledge. “It is now admired by everybody who comes, and the team have kept the fabric to an extremely high standard.

“The 10th anniversary reunion was quite emotional and nostalgic for a lot of people, some of whom have been supporters, volunteers and fundraisers going back 15 years. It was a really nice opportunity to celebrate all their achievements.

“Ten years is quite a milestone, so to see how well The Ark is doing, even in these hard times, is really something. There is no day that goes by without walking in there and having an inner glow of pride at something which is such a great achievement.”