In the high-tech, fast-paced environment of ISE 2015, it’s worth taking some time out to consider just how much of a difference the AV technology around you might make to the enjoyment of a child with a terminal illness. It also might surprise you to know that a number of vendors, individuals and organisations with you in the Amsterdam RAI today have made this possible for free in their own time.
Founded in 2009 by Ian Morrish, sales manager of ISE, Together For Cinema is an initiative that sees the AV industry donate time, products and services to bring the cinema experience to a network of children’s hospices in the UK
The goodwill behind this project has been matched by its success: to date it has completed 13 cinema room installations across the UK with all products, services and expenses donated free of charge by all involved. Over 80 companies have given their time and services for the project, which is driven and ably co-ordinated by Morrish in his own time and run in conjunction with the Together For Short Lives charity.
This, the leading UK charity for children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, supports families, professionals and services, including 53 children’s hospices in the UK.
The project has its roots in March of 2009, when Ian Morrish was watching a programme on British TV called The Secret Millionaire, which featured a holiday home for terminally ill children and their families in Blackpool, England.
“I couldn’t help but be moved by this,” recalls Morrish. “Rather than simply donate I contacted them to see if we, as the AV industry, could do anything to help. To cut a long story short about 12 months later a well-received cinema log cabin was opened.”
Together For Cinema has set a target of completing 25 cinema rooms by 2020. “We are well on track to make this,” says Morrish. “Twelve different installers have donated their time and almost 70 different manufacturers and distributors have donated product. Working with various industry friends such as CEDIA, Wildwood PR, AWE and Pulse Marketing, all associated services have been covered such as PR, product storage and a website.
We already have two more projects lined up for 2015: Keech Children’s Hospice in Luton and Naomi House Children’s Hospice in Winchester. These will both be complete by the end of the year.”
The latest installation, which was completed in November 2014, is particularly notable as Helen House was the world’s first children’s hospice, opening in 1982 on the outskirts of Oxford. It cares for children, young adults, and their families mainly but not exclusively from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, and parts of London.
“After 30 years Helen House was undergoing some comprehensive and richly deserved refurbishment and were soon ready to look at the opportunity we were offering them,” explains Morrish. “A meeting was set 1 April 2014 for the installer and me to view the location and determine which of the refurbished areas might be most appropriate for the cinema installation.”
Iain Brown, of Kensington Home Technology, had recently completed one cinema room at Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice in Arundel, and had asked Ian Morrish to keep an eye out for another room that he could get involved with.
“I mentioned Helen House to him and bearing in mind the history and also its accessible location in urban Oxford, he had no doubts and immediately agreed,” says Morrish. “My personal thanks go out to Iain as he is the first installer to have taken on a second installation as part of the Together For Cinema campaign.”
A fairly ambitious kit list was created for the install at Helen House, but both Morrish and Brown were confident they could gather products pretty swiftly.
“As it turned out this was certainly the case,” says Morrish. “Brands such as Crestron, Dataflow, Epson, Gefen [via Digibox], Humax, Kaleidescape, Middle Atlantic [via RGB], Monitor Audio, Velodyne [via Redline Distribution] and Yamaha all generously stepped up and contributed, helping transform the room into a wonderful cinema.
The approximate total cost of the install, including consultation, installation, products and any other associated costs would normally have been in the region of £16,000 for an end user price.”
Morrish adds: “Iain’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 Helen House is another installation our industry can be very proud of.”