Anyone who has had a hospice make a difference to the life of a loved one can be in no doubt as to how important its services are, with many wondering: ‘how can I help?’

In 2009, Ian Morrish, sales manager, ISE and founder of Together For Cinema pondered this very question.

“I was watching a programme called The Secret Millionaire and featured on this was a holiday home for terminally ill children and their families in Blackpool,” he reflects.

“I couldn’t help but be moved by this and 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. This success and understanding of how the cinema was appreciated led to me contacting Children’s Hospices UK (as it was then called) to see if we could help any of their member hospices.”

Fast forward to 2015 and the company has completed numerous cinema rooms for the Children’s Hospices group, with a target to complete a total of 25 before 2020.

After reading an article about the work that the AV industry has been doing to bring the joy of cinema into children’s hospices, a volunteer at Demelza Children’s Hospice contacted Ian in September 2012, leading to further communication in April 2013 with John Hotham, the head of IT at Demelza.

Together For Short Lives is a UK charity that speaks for all children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions and all who love and care for them.

In 2012 Children’s Hospices UK merged with Together For Short Lives, with approximately 50 children’s hospices in the UK in its group.

Sadly, as with all hospices, they receive limited funding from the government and need to raise significant funds every year in order to continue offering their services.

Keen to help as many hospices as possible, Ian is always on the lookout for support from installers.

Having ‘banked’ an email from Del Smith of Positive Cabling Solutions offering his services in 2011, Ian made contact regarding this particular project. Del was more than happy to get involved. 

This partnership lead to a joint visit to the Sittingbourne hospice to view the prospective room and consider what options would be suitable for the cinema install, which had to remain multi-functional and discrete.

The proposed room, which is attached to the Chapel area, was agreed to be perfect for a cinema installation.

“The initial site meetings were informative, both Del and Ian worked with us to highlight the best space available for the cinema’s position,” says John Hotham, head of information and technology, Demelza Hospice Care for Children.

“The project then moved really quickly through product design and sourcing. The installation took place over a few weeks, mainly over weekends, however Del was really amenable to the availability of the space and worked tirelessly to complete the fantastic resource that we have today.”

Following the visit, Ian and Del discussed product solutions and drew up a preferred kit list, based on what was in storage, what had been promised already and what was needed to achieve the desired end result. 

While it was an ambitious list, thanks to the right contacts, a lot of generosity and goodwill all products were promptly secured.

“It’s been wonderful to experience how people can give,” Del enthuses. “As all the donations came from various sources, I did come across issues to deal with and overcome, mostly to integrate all the donations into a system that works seamlessly. It would have been impossible for me to integrate everything without the support from those that supplied the equipment.

“I have learned so much from this project,” Del adds. “Not only from a technical perspective. It became clear to me during the project how precious our time is, especially to those that depend on the likes of Demelza and how little time their loved ones have.”

The project was completed seven months after the work began, all products and services being sourced, supplied and installed free of 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 £16,000 for an end user price.

“To have the opportunity to offer our service users a full cinema experience has been a dream of ours for a few years and a question readily requested by our service users,” John explains.

“The initial contact for this project was with Ian and was completely by chance. To our disbelief he beat our expectations by being able to deliver the complete solution cost free in the same financial year!”

Kit list

• Arcam (AV receiver): FMJ AVR450
• Wyrestorm (cables): EX-1UTP-IR-40 TX/RX HDMI/IR converters
• Invision (cables): IR cable and 2m HDMI cable
• TDI (accessories): RS232 Converter
• RTI, donated via Invision (control): T2x, KX2, ZM-24 2.4ghz and XP6
• Epson, donated by Habitech (projector): Dreamio EH-TW6000W
• Dataflow IT (screen): 3m Electric Screen with R/C.
• Kaleidescape (media server): Cinema 1
• Focal (speakers): 5 x IW1002’s and a sub-woofer.
• Middle Atlantic, donated by RGB Communications (racking): C5 series 2 bay Credenza Rack

Other accessories were donated directly by Positive Cabling Solutions Ltd, which also committed to be available for any servicing and technical queries post install.

As an engineer, working with this equipment was a pleasure in itself for Del. “Giving not only some equipment, but at such a high level that most never get the opportunity to not only experience, but even know it is possible.

“I have learned so much from this project,” Del reveals. “Not only from a technical perspective, but from a perspective of how limitless giving can be and how rewarding it is to give. For me, my giving was to give my time. If I have the ability to give to others then I am already privileged and blessed.”

“I have been staggered by how the industry has got behind the work that we’re doing,” Ian nods, referencing each project completed thus far.

“Bearing in mind no money has ever changed hands (all expenses are met by the individuals themselves), the industry have really stepped up to help. Where do I begin? So many companies and individuals have helped with each project so far that I’m frightened to mention anyone in fear of not mentioning everybody!

“However, I will risk it and for their installation help I would mention the likes of ET Home Cinema, Kensington Home Technology, Positive Cabling, DSE Digital, Loud and Clear, Rayleigh Hi-Fi, Decorum Technology, RGB Communications, Habitech and Pulse Marketing.

“As for product support there really are too many to mention but those that have supported multiple times include Redline with their Velodyne subwoofers, RGB Communications with their Middle Atlantic racks, Control4, Kaleidescape, Crestron and Epson. There are at least another 30 brands that have somehow been involved in past projects and my thanks goes to everyone.”

He adds that personal thanks must go to James Johnson-Flint: “who has offered me unlimited support which I have only had to utilise a couple of times, thank you James for your support and also your supportive emails.”

To offer your services as a manufacturer, distributor or installer to Together For Cinema, click here.

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