Our History

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Our History

The Chilterns Neuro Centre was founded in 1985 originally as the Chilterns MS Centre and only supported people with multiple sclerosis.

The modern purpose-built building we are in just now hasn’t always been our home though, and the range of services we offer hasn’t always been quite as extensive.

Primarily set up to provide oxygen therapy that was not available on the NHS, the Centre was based in a pre-fab building in the car park of the Paddocks Hospital in Princes Risborough.

 1985-1990: Paddocks Hospital, Princes Risborough

1985-1990: Paddocks Hospital, Princes Risborough

 1990-2012: Princess Mary Hospital, RAF Halton

1990-2012: Princess Mary Hospital, RAF Halton

 2012-Present: Princess Mary Gate Estate, Halton

2012-Present: Princess Mary Gate Estate, Halton

The rest, as they say, is history.

You can see more of that history by looking at our timeline below. But that is our past, to stay up-to-date with our future, sign up to our communications.

Chilterns Neuro Centre Timeline


Due to the success of the pilot programme, the support provided to people with Parkinson’s and stroke survivors was made permanent. In July, the Centre rebranded to become the Chilterns Neuro Centre.


The Centre launched a pilot programme with a view to opening up its treatments and services to people with neurological conditions other than multiple sclerosis. The pilot begun with Parkinson’s and later included stroke survivors.


The hydrotherapy pool reopened in May after a 9-month complete refurbishment programme. We are all looking forward to fully re-opening and resuming the wide range of therapy and support for people with MS.  Some of the things that we adopted during the pandemic will be continued, including online appointments and streamed exercise classes.


The Centre had grown to support 563 members with MS and 51 carer members. The world changed with the Covid-19 pandemic.  Many of our members had to shield due to their health and for the first time ever the Centre closed its doors.  The team rallied round and embraced all things digital in order to still keep people with MS motivated, active and help them feel less isolated and, for the first time ever we ran online exercise classes and appointments. In September the Centre re-opened to a smaller number of people for physiotherapy and oxygen.


We won the “Centres’ Centre” award from the Multiple Sclerosis National Therapy Centres (MSNTC).  The Nutrition Team won the QuDos in MS Award for ‘Team of the Year’.


Oakwood Wellbeing Limited (OWL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chilterns MS Centre, was set up to generate income for the Centre, mainly through facilities hire and specialist treatments. It continues to operate on a commercial basis and all profits are gifted free of tax to the Centre.


The charity’s celebrated its 30th anniversary.  It was an opportunity to reflect on humble beginnings, celebrate achievements and look forward to meeting the needs of the growing MS community. Our flagship awareness and fundraising event was born.  Walk the MS Mile saw Chair of Trustees Linda Oatley and Centre member Sarah McCready walk and wheel a mile a day for the month of September.  They were joined by Centre members and supporters and raised in excess of £60,000.   It became an annual event until 2020.


The charity’s first hydrotherapy pool welcomed its first MS users. The Centre provided physio, oxygen, hydro, occupational and complementary therapies (including reflexology, acupuncture, reiki, yoga and Pilates), massage, orthotics, speech therapy, mindfulness, podiatry, an MS information service and a Carers’ Support Group.  There were also a number of clinics: lymphoedema, wheelchair and seating, gait analysis and falls prevention. The Centre delivered 15,868 treatments.  70% of the Centre’s workforce was voluntary with 100 people per week working on reception, in the café, in oxygen and supporting the fundraising team.


The new double oxygen chamber was commissioned meaning more people could benefit from the treatment each week.  The Countess of Wessex came to visit the Centre and presented awards to three long-serving volunteers.


After raising £1.7million, the charity moved into the purpose-built 1,300m2 building on the Princess Mary Gate Estate, Wendover.


The Centre was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services – the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities.


Membership of the Centre increased to 400. People with MS benefit from physiotherapy, oxygen and occupational therapies, manual lymphatic drainage, reflexology, wheelchair training and nutritional advice, Pilates, gait analysis, acupuncture, podiatry, orthotics, benefits advice, a carers’ group and access to an MS specialist nurse. The Centre delivered 15,170 appointments and by then cost £500,000 a year to run. In September, then patron Sir David Jason broke the ground at the new site and the building of our state-of-the-art Centre commenced.


The Centre is extended thanks to a generous donation from Rob Rumbelow.


The Ministry of Defence decided to sell the land on which the Centre is sited. Negotiations began for a purpose-built facility. The Centre was given reassurance that whoever bought the land would be obliged to replace the Centre, like for like.


The number of appointments offered grew to 8,967 in the year.


The Centre is extended to provide more treatment space and is renamed the Chilterns MS Centre.  Physiotherapy increased to four days per week.   Oxygen treatment became available to other conditions including children with cerebral palsy, people with oral cancers and ME.  New treatments included reflexology, manual lymphatic drainage, gait analysis, wheelchair training and nutritional advice.  Many of these still continue today. Links were developed with local NHS services to facilitate signposting and onward referral.  The Centre becomes a one-stop-shop for treatments.


The lease at the Paddocks Hospital came to an end.  With the help of Group Captain Walter Gray, a new site is found in the grounds of the Princess Mary Hospital at RAF Halton for a peppercorn rent of £1000 per year.  The building and oxygen chamber are relocated. Personnel from RAF Halton support the Centre by tending the garden, taking part in fundraising events, decorating and moving heavy stuff.  A partnership that continues to this day!


The Centre had more than 60 users and provided 3,675 oxygen therapy or physiotherapy appointments per year at a cost of £25,000.


£25,000 had been raised.  The Paddocks Hospital in Princes Risborough kindly agreed that a prefabricated building to house the chamber could be located in the car park.


Leslie realised there was nothing for people with MS near to him and so he held a meeting with a view to opening an MS Centre locally. Thirty people attended, including people who remained Centre members for many years. They all agree that an oxygen chamber would be a great asset for people with MS in the local area.  Funds were raised by people with MS through bring and buy sales, raffles, street collections and coffee mornings.   ARMS also donated some money.