LOCATION AND INTRODUCTION:
Dougie Mac Children’s Hospice is located to the south-east of Stoke-on-Trent in North Staffordshire, and only a few minutes off Junction 15 of the M6.
At the Dougie Mac, they support children, young people, young adults and their families with palliative conditions to fulfil their potential and experience some precious family moments. They provide much needed respite and specialist care to create some special memories in a homely environment.
Every year, Dougie Mac provides all hospice services free of charge to over 3,500 local people with life-limiting illnesses in Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire and the surrounding villages; also offering supportive care for their families and carers. Following the amalgamation in March 2021 of children’s hospice The Donna Louise Trust into Dougie Mac, their care now takes place across two sites in Blurton and Trentham as well as out in the local community.
Their vision is…, to be admired as a centre of excellence for palliative and end of life care.
Their Mission is…, to respond to the increasing needs of those in our care across our heartland by growing as a sustainable organisation delivering outstanding value for money for all our funding sources and always remaining true to our core values.
HOW INITIAL CONTACT WAS MADE:
It was in the early days of Together For Cinema that I was first contacted by what was then known as the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice. Together For Short Lives had kindly published a small article in their bi-monthly newsletter about what we do and who we had been doing it for, and this was sent to, amongst many others, all the children’s hospices in the UK.
Following this newsletter I was first contacted in April 2013 and due to work pressures, limited resources and some complications at the hospice things didn’t progress. Further contact was made in December 2016 and then again in the August of 2021, and this was the catalyst for action…
It was clear that the hospice had a genuine interest in our offering and were keen for us to visit and assess the options and clarify their thoughts on what might be possible. Before doing this I was keen to get an installer on board and hopefully join me on the site visit.
HOW THE INSTALLER / PROJECT MANAGER WAS FOUND:
Steve Carter at CEDIA has always been very helpful in recommending installers in certain areas, but with so many CEDIA installer members it’s hard to know who to approach. I contacted Steve and asked if he knew of a good installer in the Stoke area and he had no hesitation in suggesting that I talk to Andy Bell of Trusted Technology…, and I’m so glad that I did!
I initially spoke to Andy early in October and he was keen to help and had no hesitation in agreeing to join me at the site visit that had been arranged for October 19th.
INITIAL MEETING AND SPECIFICATION:
Andy very kindly picked me up from Stoke-on-Trent station at lunchtime on October 19th, and we drove to the hospice to meet with Jane Jones who is the Head of Children and Young Adult Services.
We met with Jane and her colleagues and were given a warm reception. After Covid checks we were taken to a room that had clearly lost it’s defined purpose as it seemed to be ‘confused in it’s multifunctionality’. Not really sure this is the right phrase but the room needed a defined use!
The room is 3.6m wide and 8.6m long, with large windows on one side leading out to a patio area, and there are various hoists and medical requirements that we would need to work around. Bearing in mind the size of the room, Andy felt it would be relatively straightforward to work around these challenges and as we discussed the room with Jane we both saw a cinema room vision that would change this room for ever and make it something very special.
We left after about an hour and a half and I asked Andy if he was happy with everything that we discussed. I’m always conscious not to over promise on what we can do but Andy had no hesitation in proposing a comprehensive installation that would likely become our largest and most expensive donated cinema room installation yet…
To determine what items we needed, Andy and I met on Zoom a few days later and a ‘shopping list’ was drawn up. With the space that we had been given to work with we had to deliver and there was no compromise in what we were looking to achieve. Excellent AV, effective lighting, black out blinds and acoustic panels, all had been considered and, if secured, would create an incredible immersive cinema experience.
SOURCING OF PRODUCTS:
With Dougie Mac Children’s Hospice giving us the scope to create a dedicated cinema room facility we had the opportunity to deliver something very special. It’s not often that we are given a room of this size and shape and hence both Andy and I really wanted to make something magical for the children and young adults, as well as their families and carers, to enjoy in the future.
We had been very fortunate that Wisdom Audio had already pledged their support of Together For Cinema and were keen to help with an installation so their products were immediately added to the ‘shopping list’. An Arcam AVR was added, along with products from many of our regular products partners, including Epson, HDANYWHERE, Penn Elcom, QMotion, Rako, Sinemas, Snap One / Control4, Sony and Starscape.
For various reasons it wasn’t until February 2022 that the requests for product donations was sent out and again, we were staggered by the positive response. All the companies that we approached kindly stepped up and all the items required were confirmed within a couple of weeks. It took a few more months to secure all the items but this wasn’t a problem as the installation had been postponed from May until August.
A big thank you must go to all the companies that donated product. I can assure you that the difference you will make over the years is huge and I hope you are all able to attend the opening event.
A special thank you must go to Sinemas who kindly stepped up to help with the room design and the acoustic panelling that adds such a cinema room feel to the end result. They also supplied the LED tape and really couldn’t have done more to help make this happen. Thank you to Simon Grattidge and his team for a huge commitment and working with us to help create this magical room.
Tuesday 2nd August, 2022.
INSTALL COMPLETED AND FINAL SIGN OFF:
Wednesday 31st August, 2022.
KIT LIST THAT WAS DONATED:
”After receiving the phone call from Ian we had no hesitations in supporting an amazing charity and from the moment we got involved have been blown away by the generosity of our industry and the passion of Ian Morrish.
My visit was one of the most humbling experiences of my life and listening to Jane and Nikki, and witnessing first-hand the shear generosity from the public by donations and volunteering, gave me real hope in humanity.
We wanted to deliver an incredible cinema for the hospice something that could be enjoyed by all of the children and deliver escapism even for only a couple of hours. Jane told me how much the children loved simply looking at the stars in the sky through a skylight in the hospice and this really touched me. This was the reason we wanted to get the 12sq mt Starscape ceiling in the project.
Working with Simon Grattidge, who I consider the best cinema designer in the world, we put together a plan and design to deliver something unique. It was important to aid in the sonic performance of the space which was quite bright and had a lot of reflective surfaces.
Our team had 4 weeks on site to reduce the ceiling height, build the Starscape ceiling and create a new wall for the new speakers. Our team of plasterers and painters also ensured the room was fully finished to deliver what we hope will allow for years of fun for the children, young adults, families and care team at the hospice.
Many thanks to Dougie Mac for keeping our team fueled in food and coffee!”
Andy Bell, Managing Director, Trusted Technology.
‘We were so excited when we first heard from Ian with his generous offer to potentially build us a cinema room for the hospice. We were a little sceptical at first (though I really shouldn’t have been!) as it’s not every day you receive an offer of support like this!
Both Ian from Together for Cinema and Andy from Trusted Technology have been totally committed to the project and have been incredibly generous in helping to create this magical space. The silver screen has definitely arrived at the Dougie Mac!
On behalf of the organisation, the children, young adults, families, and all the associated support team we would like to say a huge thank you for your vision and hard work in creating this amazing cinema room. Everything is perfect and it will be used for years to come, and enjoyed by so many.
Thanks must go to Ian for his co-ordination of the project and the unrelenting passion that he has to make these rooms a reality. To Andy from Trusted Technology, for giving his company’s precious time and supporting a local charity. To Alan and Ollie for all their hard work during the installation and remaining calm when they faced many challenges! They showed such respect and sensitivity around the hospice. To Simon from Sinemas for his wonderful input and hard work on the design. Finally a huge thank you to the many companies who have contributed product, you’ve created something very special... It has been a real pleasure to meet and work with you all, thank you again…’
Jane Jones, Head of Children and Young Adult Services at Dougie Mac Children’s Hospice.
“Wording to be posted soon.”
Rachel Shenton, Actress and Oscar Winner in 2018 for Best Live Action Short Film
This took place on Tuesday January 10th, 2023, and I’m delighted to day that we had the largest gathering for one of our cinema room openings ever. I think this is testimony to the quality of the installation and also how far Together For Cinema has come over the past couple of years.
As well as Rachel Shenton kindly giving up her time to help open the room, we had several dignitaries from Dougie Mac including David Webster, their CEO, Judy Hart, CEO of Investors in Excellence, representation from Together For Short Lives and, most importantly, we were joined by some families and their children who will hopefully make many happy memories in their new cinema.
As for industry representation, I was delighted to see about 15 people in attendance. CEDIA, LILIN, QMotion, Sinemas, Smart Homee, SnapOne, Trusted Technology and Wisdom Audio were all represented and it was great to see so much support and interest from our industry. To have so many present and really appreciating the difference we make in our community was a real pleasure.
As for the day itself, everything ran well and we were lucky enough to have the local press and BBC Midlands present ensuring we got some great local exposure for Dougie Mac. Short speeches from myself, David Webster and an impromptu and heartfelt speech from Rachel Shelton really gave those present an insight into how we got to make this happen and the impact that the room will have over the coming years.
All in all a wonderful day and one that I am sure we will all remember for a very long time and with fond memories.
PEOPLE INVOLVED IN MAKING IT HAPPEN:
THANK YOU…, you have helped make a real difference at Dougie Mac, and in turn, have made a real difference to so many people’s lives.
Needless to say there was no budget available at Dougie Mac Children’s Hospice for a cinema room facility. Unsurprisingly there are so many care needs and expenses. However, the impact the cinema experience has is huge and the addition of this room will make a significant difference to so many children, young adults and their families for years to come. This is why we must continue to find the products and the resource to keep making these rooms happen.
This installation is the most expensive and comprehensive installation that has been completed under the Together For Cinema name. Had it been paid for the total cost, including consultation, design, installation and all the products would have been in the region of £90,000.
This was Together For Cinema’s 35th good cause cinema room installation and took the Together For Cinema good cause community delivery to over the £835,000 worth of installations, had they all been paid for. It’s estimated that we will hit £1,000,000 worth of cinema room installations by the Summer of 2023. As an industry united to make a difference we will undoubtedly achieve this, and I expect, a whole lot more…
I have to again mention the incredible commitment that Andy Bell and Alan Sherlock from Trusted Technology, and their installation team, have put in to make this happen. With no financial return they have all simply got on with the job and have delivered something incredibly special. A huge time commitment and as we all know ‘time is money’ so this is also a significant financial cost. I suspect they will all have enjoyed the experience and will have found the journey an emotional one.
On behalf of our industry, all associated with Together For Cinema and Dougie Mac Children’s Hospice, as well as the hundreds of children and young adults you will never meet, we thank you…
“Together For Cinema – together for better”