TWO friends who had not met for nearly 20 years were reunited on Monday when the first residents moved into Bury's new £94,000 old folk's home in Brandlesholme.

On arriving at Killelea House, Mrs F Wroe and Mrs Emma Cook, aged 79 and 75, were delighted to find they would be next door neighbours, almost two decades after they lost touch with each other.

The facility is Bury's fifth old people's home and the first purpose-built hostel for the elderly in the town, housing 54 new residents.

Mrs Wroe said: "This is something which I never expected, and it comes as a really pleasant surprise when matron told me who my next-door neighbour was going to be. The hostel itself is far better than I expected, too. The rooms are perfect and there is a marvellous view."

After touring the home on Saturday, members of the Bury Welfare Services Committee proclaimed that it was "superbly built", with an official opening due to take place in April.

A staff of 22 has been appointed to manage the hostel, led by matron Margaret Howarth, a former sister-in-charge at Fairfield General Hospital.

She said: "Our rooms blend with the rest of the place. Everything is so comfortable and bright."

Councillors have praised the new facilities, which include emergency alarms in every room, oil-fired central heating, three lounges, and craft rooms.

Each of the bedrooms, which range from one to four beds in size, have placed an emphasis on convenience and comfort, and impressed committee members praised the building's simplicity.

Cllr H Pearson said: "I think this is a really ideal home and is a credit to the town. It has been well designed.

"The alarm system is an essential service especially with the high-level cancel switch. Every sort of requirement has been satisfied even to the shaving plugs and attachments in the bedrooms for men.

"It is no luxury development and not particularly contemporary, but it has been built on model lines and is entirely serviceable. Old folk don't want a contemporary design but would prefer something to remind them of their earlier days and to make them feel at home and that is why it is not a spectacular building."

Mr J Butterworth, the chief welfare officer, added: "This has been a really worthwhile project, the home is superbly built."

The foundation stone of the home was laid in June 1964 and the centre has been named after former Bury mayor Alderman J Killelea, who helped to pioneer welfare work among old folk in the town.