MORE than 1,000 people have added their names to a petition calling for a hospice therapy centre to be saved from closure.

St Helena Hospice has used its Tendring Centre, in Clacton, to provide day therapy to end-of-life patients and bereavement support for grieving families since 2002.

But the charity's bosses hope to alleviate financial strain by selling the building, with a planning application set to seek a change of use into a mix of residential and leisure.

The hospice has guaranteed any services currently offered at the centre will not be lost.

Campaigner and county councillor Andy Wood is hopeful a use can be found for the building before it is closed.

He is set to hand over a petition showing the strength of feeling against the closure.

"I have 1,000 signatures already," he said.

"I still have one or two left to collect and when they are I will be making arrangements to hand them to the chief executive.

"Clacton will not let this close without a fight, as people in Tendring are fed up with being the easy touch when it comes to closing places such as this.

"This is now not going to be the case."

Alternative uses are being sought for the building, with Mr Wood suggesting Essex Partnership University Foundation Mental Health Services take the chance to use it as an outreach facility.

Mark Jarman-Howe, the hospice's chief executive, is keeping his cards close to his chest.

He said: "Headlines saying we are going to axe the Tendring centre have probably exacerbated people's concern - so I am very pleased to take this opportunity to repeat that there is no question of there being any threat to the hospice's services in Tendring.

"We are delighted there is so much support and interest in protecting the care we provide for people.

"We continue to look at options for more effective delivery of these services and we will keep our supporters updated."

He added: "It is too early to say what options we are looking at, it is simply not helpful to speculate and we don't want to add to the current uncertainty until we have firmed up future plans."

Should the closure go ahead, it is thought the services would run out of an alternative base or multiple bases elsewhere in the district.