The Prince of Wales opened a new #16 million hospital for ex-servicemen and women yesterday, praising the efforts of everyone who made the project a reality.

Speaking at Erskine Hospital, near Glasgow, he said he was delighted by the project which had produced a state-of-the-art facility for more than 700 residents and staff and replaced the old facilities located just 400 yards away.

Charles, who is patron of the hospital, took a keen interest in its design and planning.

He toured the facility, chatting to veterans and staff and even took part in a game of bingo in the activities room.

The prince later unveiled a stone plaque to commemorate the opening of the new hospital and was introduced to pensioner Mollie Craig, whose jams and pickles have raised #53,000 for the hospital.

Twice-widowed Mrs Craig, 82, of Gourock, said she was delighted to have been able to play a part in maintaining the work of the hospital.

''Prince Charles asked me about the work I'd done and he was very pleasant.

''I just told him that I helped raise the money through sales of work and other things like that.''

Asked if she had offered the Prince any of her preserve, she laughed: ''No, no, that wouldn't be the done thing and I'd maybe have to charge him.''

The original Erskine Hospital opened in 1916 to help cope with a flood of casualties from the First World War.

The new buildings provide accommodation very different from the original shared wards and each of the 180 residents now has a room of their own with en suite facilities.

Lieutenant General Sir John MacMillan, chairman of the Erskine Hospital, said: ''For eight decades the hospital has been a constantly developing organism.

''Inevitably the time came for us to build a modern, state of the art facility to meet the highly advanced health care needs and nursing home regulations of the new millennium.''