THE opening of the new Beacon Centre at Musgrove Park is a wonderful event for the residents of Taunton Deane.

Most people will know someone who has suffered from cancer and been required to make the 100-mile round-trip to Bristol for treatment.

The patients feel physically and emotionally drained already, and the stress of the journey compounds their difficulties, as well as being very hard for relatives and other carers.

Getting the Beacon Centre built has been a major task and it required real determination to keep the project on track. Great credit is due to the hospital managers who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to achieve this outcome.

Now we have a real state-of-the-art cancer centre. When I speak to specialist consultants, they say the new facilities at Musgrove Park are not just impressive by Somerset standards; they are impressive by international standards.

I also admire the community support for this project. The volunteers from SURE - the local cancer charity - have worked absolutely tirelessly, and Taunton Deane residents have been generous with their financial contributions.

Amid all the gloomy economic news, the opening of the Beacon Centre can lift our spirits. Over the coming years it will massively improve the quality of life of many people in our area and I am proud that it has been built in Taunton.