The Princess Royal opens The Walton Centre's newest building




The Princess Royal officially opened The Walton Centre’s newest building 

The Princess Royal was in Liverpool today (Tuesday, December 15) to officially open The Walton Centre’s newest building.

Her Royal Highness was unveiling a commemorative plaque at The Sid Watkins Building which is named after an eminent neurosurgeon who made revolutionary improvements to the safety of Formula 1.

A bust of Professor Sid Watkins, which honours his contribution to the world of sport and medicine, was also unveiled during the ceremony, which was attended by members of his family.

The Sid Watkins Building first accepted patients in January this year. At a cost of £29m and delivered ahead of time and nearly £1m under budget, it gives The Walton Centre, a specialist brain and spinal hospital, more space to treat patients.

It houses the hospital’s 30-bedded Complex Rehabilitation Unit, its Pain Management Programme which helps patients manage long-lasting pain, a specialist neuropsychology service, an education centre and lecture theatre, charity funded relatives’ accommodation, an outpatients department, offices for finance, human resources, IT, Procurement and more.


The visit marks the second time The Princess Royal has been to The Walton Centre. Her Royal Highness officially opened The Walton Centre’s main hospital building in 1998 when the Trust moved from the old Walton Hospital site on Rice Lane to a new building on Lower Lane in Fazakerley.

The Princess Royal

Chairman Ken Hoskisson said: “We are delighted to welcome back HRH The Princess Royal to The Walton Centre.

“We are very proud of what we have achieved with the opening of The Sid Watkins Building. Having a royal visit marks how significant that achievement is, but we’re also proud that the visit will also remember and honour the great man we named the building after.”

During the visit, Prof Watkins' widow Susan gave a speech, saying: “It’s a joy for my family, our closest friends, and for me to be here today for the Royal opening of the Sid Watkins Building.  In a sense my husband’s career has come full circle. For with the naming of this building, he continues to be associated with medical and surgical excellence, with pioneering research and treatments and with patient rehabilitation. His battlecry - there were never enough rehab facilities and now we have at least one more and what an outstanding example.

“I can’t tell you how impressed we are with what you have achieved here and with your humanity which you share with my husband. And your Royal Highness, we are indeed honoured that you have come here today to officially open The Sid Watkins Building, my husband would be delighted. On behalf of Sid, myself and all our family and friends, thank you.”

The Walton Centre has a history of naming wards after eminent neurosurgeons and neurologists.

It was following a suggestion from Aintree Circuit Club via its Vice President Professor Sir Drummond Bone and Chairman Michael Ashcroft that Professor Sid Watkins’ name came forward.

As he was fundamental to a number of pioneering projects, including the development of Royal London Hospital’s helicopter emergency service and responsible for radical improvements to safety in Formula 1, he was a fitting choice.

Professor Sid Watkins was born in Liverpool, graduated from Liverpool University and had a long and distinguished career in neurosurgery. His work continues to deliver safety benefits today not only in Formula 1 but in other sports such as horse trials.

To create a lasting legacy for such an outstanding individual, The Walton Centre has launched The Sid Watkins Fund to support innovation in the field of neurological health care.

Pic caption: Prof Sid Watkins

Pic caption 2: The Sid Watkins Building 

Pic caption 3: The Princess Royal opening The Walton Centre in 1998


Further information: Helen Hunt on 0151 529 8964 or 07966 627814

The Princess Royal

The Princess Royal is the second child and only daughter of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.
She received the title Princess Royal from The Queen in June 1987; she was previously known as Princess Anne. Her Royal Highness is the seventh holder of the title.

The Princess Royal is President or Patron of some 340 organisations.

Professor Sid Watkins

Professor Sid Watkins was born in Liverpool, graduated in medicine from Liverpool University, and had a long and distinguished career in neurosurgery, where he pioneered several frontiers in his specialty including brain and spine stimulation, the surgery of pain and Parkinson’s disease, as well as trauma.  

Professor Watkins was fundamental to the development of the Royal London Hospital’s helicopter emergency service and the first emergency brain scanning unit, both of which were subsequently mirrored at other major hospitals. 

Parallel with his medical career was his work to revolutionise safety aspects in motor racing. These not only led to radical improvements to safety in Formula 1 but also established methods by which sport around the world tackles risk. Professor Sid Watkins was at the forefront of Formula 1 safety for more than 30 years, expanding on safety improvements begun by motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart at the invitation of Formula 1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone.  

Outside Formula 1 Prof Watkins’s work continues to deliver safety benefits in sporting activities as wide ranging as horse trials and rally car events, and his leadership in safety research has ultimately led to changes in the design of all cars.

The Walton Centre

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust is the only hospital trust in the UK specialising in neurology, neurosurgery and pain services. Although the majority of patients come from Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales, Lancashire and the Isle of Man, for some specialist treatments of complex disorders we see patients from all parts of the country, referred by their GPs or other neurologists, neurosurgeons and pain clinicians.

For more information please visit:

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

Lower Lane


Liverpool L9 7LJ

0151 525 3611