Ian Morrish of Together for Cinema talks us through a recent project the company has been involved in.
Location and introduction
White Lodge is in Chertsey in Surrey, and is a charity providing services that enable those with a range of disabilities, their families and carers to lead fulfilling lives.
The White Lodge vision is ‘a world which is inclusive to all, regardless of ability’.
White Lodge currently supports over 2,500 individuals across Surrey and beyond through a diverse range of services for all ages and abilities.
White Lodge is based on a two acre site in Chertsey in three specialist buildings with great facilities and services for all ages, including: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, a specialist nursery, hydrotherapy, holiday clubs, personal support in the home, short breaks (respite), fitness and rehabilitation and many activities such as trips out, art, baking, swimming, and much more.
How initial contact was made
It was in December 2018 that Amy Amesbury of proAV first mentioned White Lodge to me. She outlined that proAV, being so local to White Lodge, had helped fundraise for them and had also helped out with some practical work on site. She asked me if Together For Cinema would be interested in helping with the installation of a cinema room and to cut a long story short I was delighted to help.
White Lodge is a different facility to most of Together For Cinema’s previous installations in that it is assists all ages with disabilities. Most of our previous 24 installations had been at children’s hospices.
Having agreed to help we had a meeting on site at the end of January 2019.
Initial meeting and specification
Amy and myself met with Mike Hey, the Head of Marketing and Fundraising at White Lodge on January 24, 2019. We looked at various options for the location of the cinema room and quickly identified the best option. The room in question is located in their Rendezvous building and was at the time being used as their communications room for things such as education, gaming, TV, meetings etc., very much multi-functional. Mike admitted to us quite quickly that the room needed updating and Amy and I felt that a certain amount of reshaping was needed to really make it work as a cinema room, but also to retain its multi-functionality.
After much discussion, a plan was agreed and a schedule to make this happen. With certain commitments already planned the cinema room installation was due to take place at the end of the year, and hopefully in time for Christmas.
Sourcing of products
With the ‘weight’ of proAv and the contacts that both Amy and I have in the industry, it was again reasonably straightforward to gather all of the products required. Continued generousity from various companies quickly got us into a position whereby we had promises of everything we required. Thanks must go to all those who generously contributed and helped make the process of gathering the items required a swift and straightforward one.
The install started on July 20, 2020, and the install was completed and final sign off achieved on July 31, 2020.
On September 16, there was an official Cinema Room Opening at White Lodge. This was planned to be a 25-30 people event including the installation team, some manufacturers who donated and several people associated with White Lodge itself. Sadly, the opening was not quite what we had planned, as new government directives meant that we had to limit our opening event to only six people. However, this didn’t dampen the spirits of those that attended!
As well as myself, Amy Amesbury from proAV, Mike Hey from White Lodge and John and Dave who have been coming to White Lodge for years, we were delighted to have Diana Moran (yes, The Green Goddess) in attendance. I have to say I rather fell for Diana who is now in her early eighties and is quite simply one of, if not, the nicest, most charming, gracious and courteous ladies I have ever met. She was delightful and has been associated with White Lodge, as well as many other charities, for many, many years. Her enthusiasm and support for White Lodge was clear to see and she really was pleased to be there and wholeheartedly helped celebrate the opening of the new cinema room. A few interviews were conducted and some photos were taken and a video of the day will be available very soon.
Whilst there we popped a bottle of fizz and celebrated the opening, but also we acknowledged that White Lodge was the 25th cinema room completed by Together For Cinema. The target of 25 by 2020 set over 10 years ago is now complete!
Aladdin was the film chosen to view and we had a ten minute or so demonstration of how the room worked, automated blinds, LED lighting, and fab AV control all combine to make the end result a fabulous addition to the facilities and offering at White Lodge. May it be used every day and we hope to hear from them soon to hear that they need a new projector bulb!
Amy Amesbury, PR and Marketing Manager, proAV, comments:
“I have worked with Ian and Together for Cinema in the past through my previous role at Crestron, providing kit for several different cinema installation projects over the years. When I moved job roles and joined proAV I had the perfect opportunity to support the charity again but in a different way.
“proAV has supported the White Lodge Centre for many years, raising much needed funds to support activities for both children and adults that use the centre as well as providing ongoing AV support for their fundraising events. Once I got to know Mike and the team at White Lodge I could see the potential for a Together for Cinema project and contacted Ian to ask if he would visit and consider it a potential contender.
“Thankfully, Ian agreed that White Lodge could indeed benefit from a cinema installation and proAV agreed to provide the design, installation and programming support required to see the project to fruition. We worked closely with Mike to ensure the space could offer a cinema experience when required but could also function for other uses at different times making it work as hard as it can for the Centre.
“Despite the delay to final installation, due to COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions, we knew eventually we would be able to realise this project for White Lodge. With the support of so many fantastic AV brands we were able to create a cinema room experience which will be utilised in a variety of ways by a huge range of deserving people, including children, young adults, parents, helpers and staff of the centre, providing them all with a unique experience right on their doorstep, theirs to use for many years to come.”
Mike Hey, Head of Marketing and Fundraising, White Lodge, adds:
“The new White Lodge cinema room is transformational. We are supporting children, young people and adults with such a broad range of disabilities and accessing normal cinema complexes can be very challenging.
“It’s not just the accessibility, it’s also the environment of being in a public setting. Living with disability can be tremendously isolating and having the confidence to go to theatres can be a barrier. In the past when we have taken children and adults to the cinema it’s become a complex and logistical task. Some cinemas don’t have close disabled parking and some only have limited disabled spaces in the theatres. Also, what space they do have is very close to the screen, which for some children and adults, who cannot lift their heads, is quite uncomfortable.
“We also support many high functioning children from the autistic spectrum. They have very challenging behaviours and many are very light and noise sensitive.
“Having this new facility is incredible as we are now bringing the power of cinema to White Lodge. We can easily accommodate 10 of more people at one time and having the ability to manage the light and the noise levels, to suit our users, is brilliant. Also having the ability to bring the full cinematic sensory experience to White Lodge is such a gift. We can share some movie blockbusters and Disney classics but also use the big screen to show some special interest nature programmes like the BBC’s Frozen Planet which so many of our members love and adore.
Thank you Together for Cinema, proAV and all the industry donors for making this happen. We are already embracing this facility to the full and will do for many years to come.”
Kit that was donated
- Crestron (Control): CEN-SWPOE-16, RMC3, HD-TX-101-C-E, Crestron App.
- Dataflow AV (Screen): Sapphire Electric Screen.
- Marantz (AV Receiver donated by AWE): SR 5014.
- Middle Atlantic (Racking) donated by RGB Communications: MA-CFR-12-18 Racking, Shelving and other items as required.
- Monitor Audio (Speakers): 4 Radius 90 speakers, Subwoofer, Apex A40 centre speaker.
- NEC (Projector): NP-P554WG.
- QMotion (Automated Blinds): 3 x motors and fitted blinds. QzHub3.
- Sony, donated by Midwich (BluRay Player): UPB X8000.
On top of the list above many other products and accessories were generously donated by proAV.
People involved in making it happen
- Ian Morrish (Founder of Together For Cinema)
- Amy Amesbury (PR and Marketing Manager, proAV)
- Mark Roberts (Residential Sales Manager, proAV)
- Andrew Bradley (Project Manager, proAV)
- Scott Sole (Site Manager, proAV)
- Brendon Bennett (Programmer, proAV)
- All the manufacturers and distributors that supplied the necessary product, all of whom have already been mentioned in the Kit List above.
Thank you – you have helped make a real difference at White Lodge!
All products 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 £25,000 for an end user price.
For Together For Cinema, this installation was our 25th and target hitting charitable installation! In 2009, when Together For Cinema was born, a target was set to install 25 cinema rooms into children’s hospices and other deserving locations, by the year 2020. I’m delighted that this has finally been achieved.
With regards to the cinema room at White Lodge, this would not have been possible without the drive and determination of Amy Amesbury at proAV. She brought the venue to Together For Cinema’s attention and helped make it happen at every step of the way. Her passion for, and support of, White Lodge combined with her commitment to the project helped overcame all the challenges that COVID-19 threw at us.
With a new Together For Cinema team now formed I’m delighted to be able to announce that our 26th installation will be at the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield, and should be completed in Spring 2021. Melanie Malcolm of Bespoke Home Cinemas in Leeds will be managing this installation and she is part of the new team so she’s ‘in at the deep end’ pretty quickly!
Lots of us in the AV industry do many things to help others, be it raising money, offering services or products free of charge etc. Many of us also think ‘I really should do something to help’ or ‘I wonder if I could make a difference’, well, next time you do…, do it! You’ll feel good about it and you’ll help others, and ultimately our privileged industry can give a little more back to those less fortunate. This can only be a good thing.