Acorns Children's Hospice (In The Black County)

Location: Walsall, West Midlands

Acorn's In The Black Country

Walstead Road



01922 422500



Acorns Children’s Hospice is located in Walsall in the West Midlands. It is part of the Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust which in turn is a member of the Together For Short Lives group. Opened in June 1999, the hospice has ten bedrooms, a family care suite and three bedrooms for families and friends to stay. Acorns in the Black Country provides a home-from-home environment where each child receives a tailor-made package of individual care.



At the beginning of 2011 we had already generated some PR nationally about the work the AV industry is doing in trying to bring the joy of Home Cinema to children and young people with short lives. Then, following the initial PR from Children’s Hospices UK (as Together For Short Lives were known as then) to their members in June 2011, I received an email from Ann Smallman at Acorns in Walsall. We had a long chat and once she was clear and understanding of what we felt we could offer we started to have some ideas about furthering the Home Cinema ideas in the hospice. It was clear that the next stage was for me to visit Acorns and this I did on Tuesday 9th August. Having met with Ann and her team we quickly identified the preferred area for the Home Cinema to be installed, this being the dining room area, which would double up as a cinema.



Following industry PR kindly given by our industry media, as well as a CEDIA appeal for installers, I was lucky enough to have a bank of installers prepared to help on upcoming projects. Having agreed to help Acorns in Walsall I simply approached the nearest installer to Walsall that had offered support, this being Decorum Technology, to see if they would be interested in helping. Gary Mills had no hesitation in agreeing to take on the install.



We arranged a site visit for Gary on Wednesday October 12th when he met the team at Acorns, and subsequently drew up a ‘preferred’ kit list. Following this meeting Gary and I talked about the install and having already had some product donated (and in storage with AWE in Epsom) we agreed a preferred product list (see later in report). The already donated product included 5 B&W FPM4 flat panel wall speakers, a Rotel RSX-1550 AV Receiver (both donated by B&W a few weeks earlier) and a DVD Player donated by NAD. The balance of products required included a motorised 2.5m screen, projector, rack, sub etc..., and these I set about trying to raise from the industry.



On my initial appeal for product I had an immediate response for support, and there was even an offer from James Johnson-Flint at Opus to underwrite the whole installation, as well as future ones... My thanks must go to him for his fantastic offer of support. It would have been very easy to take James up on his offer but I wanted to try to get as many people involved as possible and with many offers of support this was made easy for me... However, it was great to know that whatever the response the install at Acorns in The Black Country Children’s Hospice would definitely go ahead. My thanks must go to all manufacturers and distributors and for their support.



Tuesday 17th January, 2012.



Our remit was to provide the best solution for a cinema installation with the materials that had been donated, and to try and cause as little disruption to the running of the hospice. The room chosen for the installation was the main dining room so it was crucial to install the equipment and return the room to its operational state in one day. The nature of the room meant we had access to the loft space which helped us to run cables to the projector and speakers. As the speakers were surface we had to make the choice to use a discrete surface trunking rather than our preferred method of chasing the cables in. To achieve this we put 5 men on site working all day and eventually ended up vacuuming at 7pm! We called the next day to finish programming and commissioning and to provide a run through and official handover.”

Gary Mills, Managing Director, Decorum Technology



Wednesday 18th January, 2012.



“When we were approached to help at Acorns in Walsall I took the question to a staff meeting and had an overwhelmingly positive response. There was a great feeling that we wanted to help in any way we could. From a personal perspective I felt we could have achieved more for the hospice given more time and a few other gadgets, however there was only so much we could do with the brief put forward. What we did do was to ensure that any future work or upgrades will be easy and achievable, and I feel we put together a system that will be future ready but instantly rewarding. All of the staff at Acorns were fantastically enthusiastic and encouraging, and they also looked after us by supplying a constant stream of tea and biscuits which warms the heart of any tradesman! We would certainly be happy to help out again in similar circumstances, it was a privilege to bring a lot of enjoyment to the children at Acorns.”

Gary Mills, Managing Director, Decorum Technology



The following products were all kindly donated:

  • BEAMAX: Motorised 2.5m on ceiling remote control screen (direct from Beamax)
  • EPSON: EH-TW3600 Projector (sourced and supplied by Opus Technologies)
  • NAD: T535 DVD Player
  • B&W: 5 x FPM4 Flat Panel Wall Speakers (direct from B&W UK Ltd)
  • ROTEL: RSX-1550 AV Receiver (direct from B&W UK Ltd)
  • VELODYNE: SPL 1000 Subwoofer (sourced and supplied by Redline Distribution)
  • MIDDLE ATLANTIC: Wall Mounted Equipment Rack (supplied by RGB Communications)
  • UNIVERSAL REMOTE CONTROLS: MX-810i multi programmable remote (direct from AWE Ltd)
  • DVDO: Premium 1 Unit
  • KINETIK: 100m of Speaker Cable (direct from AWE Ltd)
  • KINETIK: Infra Red Matrix 4 output / 1 receiver (direct from AWE Ltd)
  • CONNECTIVITY UK: 2 x HDMI Cables (direct from Connectivity UK Ltd)
  • RAKO: Wall Plate, Dimmer 500w and Relay 800w (direct from Rako)

Various other items such as a projector ceiling plate were supplied by Decorum Technology as required.  



”We are absolutely delighted with our new surround sound cinema. We were expecting great things but have been amazed by what the company have achieved for us, which was put to use instantly.

The children enjoyed an ‘afternoon at the pictures’ in the area the very next day with a viewing of a musical Disney film which suited everyone. This really tested both the acoustics and the picture quality. Staff called me to ask me to come and witness the quality and I also saw how happy the children looked. Words such as ‘wow’ ‘aah’ and ‘amazing’ were heard! It was however the reaction from the children who are non- verbal which meant even more. They looked so happy with smiles of delight and happy sounds.

The older children say its ‘bad’ meaning great! And have used the equipment to enhance their  X-Box and other gaming console usage!

They have incorporated a much loved but difficult to use or hear juke box which the children and staff alike are delighted with. As a result there is now always music from various genres playing again increasing the use of the dining area and making it feel more homely.

The helpful and simple instructions for using the equipment are extremely beneficial. Thanks again...”

Carmel Forrest, Head of Care, Acorns In The Black Country Children’s Hospice.



All products and services were sourced, supplied and installed free of any charge. The approximate total cost of the install, including consultation, installation, products and any other associated costs would normally have been in the region of £10,000 for an end user price.

Decorum Technology have also committed to be available for any servicing and technical queries post install.



It’s great to hear the positive feedback from Ann Smallman and her team at Acorns In The Black Country about how the children and their families have (and will) enjoy their new Cinema Room, and I know that many more will do so in the future. It’s immediately become a feature at Acorns and I know it will be used for many hours every day to help put smiles on faces and help make every day a little for richer for everyone that enjoys it.

Finally, my thanks again to Gary from Decorum Technology and his installation team, and all the manufacturers and distributors that supported the project – I can confidently say that your efforts, and combined generosity, will make a difference to all those that use the room for many years to come..., and this is something that we should all be very proud of...

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