LOCATION AND INTRODUCTION:
The Bluebells was opened in July 2011 and is located in North Waltham, very close to Basingstoke in Hampshire. It is part of Sabastian’s Action Trust and the trust was set up by Sebastian’s Mum, an amazing woman called Jane Gates. Jane lost Sebastian on Christmas Eve 2003 but not before he himself had started the fundraising ball rolling to create a place of respite where children with life limiting conditions could go to and enjoy, as well as giving parents, siblings and carers a break. Sebastian was a typical 9 year old but his determination and maturity in the face of adversity made him a very special 9 year old…
Jane fulfilled Sebastian’s vision and many children have enjoyed time at The Bluebells and Jane is continually developing the property to be as good as it can be and to getting as close as she can to making every second a happy one for all that stay and visit. Her achievements have been astounding and in 2012 she and her husband Michael won a Special Recognition Award at the Pride of Britain Awards and it is so well deserved…
The care offered at The Bluebells is mainly respite and short breaks. Some families may visit for many years, from the time the child is first diagnosed as having a life limiting condition. The whole family can stay at The Bluebells, meaning that the well brothers and sisters can be cared for during their visit and also enjoy themselves.
The support given extends to the whole family, into bereavement and beyond for as long as each family needs it. You quickly understood that these are not sad places but very uplifting with an aim to make every minute as special as they can be. Jane often says “we try to add life to days…”
Jane’s drive to progress has led to The Bluebells now having a sister location called The Woodlands in Crowthorne, Berkshire, and this was acquired in November, 2017. Together For Cinema will keep in touch with Jane and I suspect we will help her again when she’s ready.
HOW INITIAL CONTACT WAS MADE:
It was at the RAC Club in Epsom that my parents, Pat and Sheila Morrish, attended a fundraising lunch and were on the same table as a gentleman called David Jackson who is heavily involved with a charitable movement called Wooden Spoon who had played a big part in helping fund the development of The Bluebells in 2011. My father noted The Bluebells and passed on their details to me and the following day I sent a speculative email outlining what Together For Cinema could do. Shortly afterwards, it was Lorraine Mace who contacted me from The Bluebells and we arranged for me to visit and meet with Jane Gates on July 19th.
Having met Jane I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted Together For Cinema to help and create a special cinema room for the children and families to enjoy. With what Jane had been through, and subsequently achieved, we couldn’t do anything else than do what we could to help…
With this in mind I set about looking for an installer.
HOW THE INSTALLER / PROJECT MANAGER WAS FOUND:
Well, this was a twist of fate… Shaun Wilson of KNEKTD Integrated Media, had recently had his first baby (in April 2017) and was keen to get involved in a charitable project to help children. His gorgeous daughter, who is absolutely fine now, had some early health issues so Shaun was keen to get involved in a project helping sick children. It was at this time that Shaun had mentioned to one or two people in the industry that he was looking for a project to get involved with. He quickly learned of Together For Cinema and we arranged to meet at breakfast on September 30th after our industry Awards at which Together For Cinema had been recognised. It all fell into place and after a few minutes of chatting Shaun was on board and fully committed. In fact he committed a team of individuals to get involved and boy…, did they get involved…!!
INITIAL MEETING AND SPECIFICATION:
With Shaun’s energy and passion to get involved a meeting was set up very soon, in fact at 11.30am on Friday October 20th. This meeting was held at The Bluebells between myself, Shaun Wilson and Jane Gates. The first thing Jane did was obviously warmly welcome us but then she showed Shaun around the home and it was at this point I saw Shaun’s enthusiasm heighten but also turn into a responsibility to deliver the best that he could.
On viewing the room Shaun had a fabulous vision that involved a large amount of room restructuring, comprehensive lighting etc… This vision involved a team of individuals that Shaun had already secured a commitment from, who also had the opinion of making the end result the very best they could.
With it being October, the discussion turned to ‘could we get it finished for Christmas?’ A tall order but one that Shaun immediately said ‘we’ll do it, it must be in for the kids by Christmas…’, and so it was…! Probably the quickest, and certainly one of the best end results, of any Together For Cinema installation, and an end result that Shaun and his team should be incredibly proud of. More of this later but the mission now was to go to the industry and secure the required products. As always the installer felt this was a tall order but I knew better…!
SOURCING OF PRODUCT:
With Together For Cinema being increasingly recognised as a positive industry movement it’s become easier over the years to source the products required to create these cinema rooms. Several companies have become ‘Go To’ for certain products and others are called upon intermittently to supply more specific items. Either way, and however it is achieved, the industry has been incredibly supportive with both manufacturers and distributors regularly sending items as required, and many of them with a significant price tag.
As with all of our installations the kit list was fairly ambitious, particularly as we needed to secure all of the product free of any charge. With no money ever changing hands at Together For Cinema everything needs to be donated, be it product, time or anything else required!
On this occasion both Shaun and I were heavily involved in securing the product and I think we both surprised each other with how quickly everything was secured and delivered to KNEKTD’s offices in South London. With the urgency to complete pre-Christmas we were lucky that everyone worked with us to help make this happen.
Again, the willingness to support is unquestioned and long may this continue!
Friday 1st December, 2017
INSTALL COMPLETED AND FINAL SIGN OFF:
Monday 11th December, 2017.
On Monday 11th December there was an Opening Reception at The Bluebells with over 20 people in attendance, including a couple of the children from the Bluebells who were very impressed with their new cinema room! Staff at the Bluebells were also in attendance and laid on a lovely buffet spread and even a bottle or two of fizz! It was a wonderful day and there were three short speeches, one by Ian Morrish (Founder of Together For Cinema), one by Shaun Wilson (MD of KNEKTD) and finally Jane Gates (Founder of The Bluebells).
It was without doubt Shaun’s words that encapsulated what this is all about…, having the inspiration and drive to give a little bit back. He even said that this was the most satisfying installation he had ever been involved in. With only cost and no monetary profit I think this will outline what this meant to him and all of his team who so willingly gave up their time.
“My beautiful daughter Ava, who is now 6 months old, has been the inspiration behind this whole project. I started to look at ways to get involved in a worthwhile installation back in September this year and came across Together For Cinema. Luckily, this was a few weeks before the CEDIA Awards, so I was able to meet Ian there and it was there he first introduced the thought of installing a Home Cinema at The Bluebells Centre.
Having visited the centre and been given the tour, the next step was to ensure we could get hold of the right equipment and between Ian and myself, we were lucky enough to be inundated with offers from our supplier friends. We’ve been truly touched by the amount of people who have come forward to donate their time, products and expertise. This project really reminded me of what is important in life and when everyone pulls together for a good cause, amazing things really can be achieved! I’m incredibly proud of what we have done and I’m so pleased we’ve been able to create a fun and interactive room for the children and their families at The Bluebells.
The people of Bluebells have created such an amazing centre and made it so easy for us to get involved and work with them on this project. We hope the Cinema provides many hours of entertainment for those who visit.”
Shaun Wilson, Director, KNEKTD Integrated Media
CUSTOMER POST INSTALL COMMENTS:
In response to me thanking Jane for laying on the opening party on December 11th…
“It is me that should be thanking you for bringing the joy of Together for Cinema to the Trust and to The Bluebells! It was our pleasure and privilege to acknowledge all the work and generosity that has gone into transforming our cinema into something of which we are now incredibly proud. The Opening Day was a lovely opportunity to meet many of those who have played a part in creating a facility that will give joy and precious memories to so many of our beneficiaries, adding life to days in spite of an uncertain future. We are enormously grateful to all who played a part in transforming our cinema, with particular thanks to Shaun and Bruno for their significant input with design and construction alongside securing the resources needed to create a first rate facility.
I am also absolutely thrilled and touched by the willingness to undertake something similar at our new acquisition, The Woodlands in Crowthorne, Berkshire. As you are aware it is a somewhat different project in that we are renovating a tired Victorian villa with ancillary buildings. We plan to open both the outreach Hub and the day respite facilities in July 2018.
Thank you all once again for choosing to support our cause with such a fantastic project; you are very much part of our ‘family of families’ and I look forward to sharing with you photos and feedback on the wonderful cinema you have given us.
With warm wishes for the festive period and grateful thanks.”
Jane Gates, Founder, The Bluebells.
KIT LIST THAT WAS DONATED:
On top of the list above many other products and accessories were generously donated by KNEKTD, LBC Contractors and Colchester Electrical Services.
PEOPLE INVOLVED IN MAKING IT HAPPEN:
THANK YOU to you all!! …you have all helped create a little bit of magic at The Bluebells.
All products, carpentry, room design and associated 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 £50,000 for an end user price.
For Together For Cinema, this installation was actually our 18th completed cinema room in a children’s hospice or respite home. Number 19 followed 5 days later and number 20 is operational but with a few finishing touches to be made in the New Year. Their reports will follow soon…
We are now closing in on our target of 25 rooms to be completed by 2020. With 54 children’s hospices under the Together For Short Lives umbrella in the UK there remains a great deal more that we can do. We will start work with three more locations later this year and these are based in Crowthorne in Surrey (as mentioned before, Barnet in London and Quidenham, near Thetford in Norfolk.
The cinema room at The Bluebells is another fantastic result, with more great support from the industry to help make it happen. Thanks must go to all involved, but particularly to Shaun Wilson whose passion and determination made it happen in time for Christmas. He has also committed to be available for any servicing and technical queries post install.
Shaun’s efforts, and the generosity of all concerned, will make a difference to all those that use the room for many years to come. Very simply, the cinema room at The Bluebells is is yet another installation our industry can be very proud of.