Horley's acclaimed Brambles Respite Care Centre for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has announced it is to close this Saturday (May 4).

The sudden announcement on the centre's website from MS Respite and Care Services, which runs the Brambles, stated the move was being made “with great regret,”staff and guests had been met with and told the position, and those who had made imminent bookings had been contacted.

Unfortunately, the closure announcement coincides with this year's MS Awareness Week, which seeks to raise the profile of the debilitating condition and the search for a cure.

The website statement explained: “We advise, with great regret, that it is necessary for MS Respite and Care Services Limited to close the existing MS Respite care service at Brambles Respite Care Centre.

“We continue to believe there is demand for an MS service in this area, but only one that is allied to a larger care home, providing a wider range of services.

“We've met with both staff on site and guests who were at the home and explained the position.”

The statement continued: “The staff conducted themselves with great professionalism and I believe will continue to provide an excellent service for guests who continue to use the service up until closure on May 4.”

It added: “Although an independent company, St Cloud Care, is offering to assist any guests with alternative facilities elsewhere, for those who wish to consider that option.”

The facilities highlighted included Priory Court, a large nursing home at Ewell, near Epsom.

The statement concluded: “We would like to thank those who have supported the Brambles service over the years.”

The Brambles Respite Care Centre in Suffolk Close is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind in the country.

The state-of-the-art complex offered 24-hour care for people with MS and a much-needed break for their carers.

Over more than 20 years, its staff helped thousands of people with MS and their carers and families.

However, in June 2010, the MS Society, the UK's largest charity dedicated to supporting everyone whose life is touched by MS and which used to run the Brambles, withdrew its funding.

The society said it was to move away from directly providing respite care services at its four centres, to allow it to focus on enabling people across the UK to access respite and short breaks that are right for them wherever they live. The society made efforts to find an alternative care provider to take over the running of the Brambles, but announced in autumn 2011 that its talks with the main hope to take over the centre, MS Respite and Care Services Limited, had fallen through. Arrangements were being made to close the centre with redundancy talks taking place and letters being sent out to the people who used it, when the MS Society announced it had reached a last minute agreement with MS Respite and Care Services Limited. The initial agreement, known as ‘Heads of Terms,’ stated that MS Respite and Care Services Limited would continue services for people with MS and transfer existing staff into their employment. The centre did close its doors temporarily in November 2011, but reopened the following February under MS Respite and Care Services Limited, an associated company of St Cloud Care plc.

MS is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults and an estimated 100,000 people in the UK have the condition. The MS Society provides a freephone helpline (0808 800 8000), specialist MS information and funding to many MS research projects in the UK. Website: www.mssociety.org.uk