The magic of the movies is bringing smiles to seriously ill children – with the opening of a brand new accessible cinema at Derian House Children’s Hospice.
Now children and young people confined to wheelchairs, or even hospital beds, will be able to enjoy the full cinematic experience alongside their family and friends, without leaving the building.
The ribbon was cut to officially open the new cinema today (Thursday, 29 August), by Wigan actor Ben Batt – who appeared in Channel 4 comedy drama Shameless and Marvel blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger.
Friends Francesca, 15 and Amelie, 14, who both come to Derian House for respite, were the first to experience it, with a screening of The Greatest Showman.
Amelie’s dad Darren said: “Having a facility like this is going to make a family trip to the cinema something we can now do. Being in busy crowded places can cause Amelie to have a meltdown so going to the cinema isn’t something she would cope with. Knowing that this is in environment where Amelie is happy will be a big benefit for us.”
The £100,000 cinema has been donated to the hospice by charity Together for Cinema, which brings cinema to children with life-limiting conditions.
Founder Ian Morrish said: “This was a hugely ambitious project that has been achieved with the help and generosity of many within the audio visual industry. We hope that the children, their families and of course the staff enjoy the new facility for many years to come.”
The state-of-the-art cinema is part of the hospice’s £1.2 million “Fit for the Future” refurbishment to ensure the building is suitable for the ever-changing needs of the children and young people who use Derian House now and in the future.
The 120-inch screen will give families a fully-immersive experience, with hotdogs, popcorn and candy floss being served to make their trip as authentic as possible.
Stephen Nevison, Director of Intuitive Homes, donated his time and expertise to lead the installation of the new cinema. His six-year-old daughter Aria even raised £1,500 to buy little extras including beanbags, a popcorn machine, a light-up sign and film posters for the room by designing and selling compact mirrors.
Stephen said: “I am so grateful to all of the manufacturers who have donated products and would like to give a special thanks to the ones who really went over and above what anyone could have expected and made my initial wish-list into a reality. It’s been an absolute pleasure working at Derian as all of the staff have been so accommodating and lovely to be around.
“I’m incredibly proud of the results we have achieved and can’t wait for the children and families to use it. This has been an amazing experience so far and more rewarding that I could have imagined and I’m looking forward to the years of supporting and working with Derian House in the future.”
David Robinson, Chief Executive at Derian House Children’s Hospice, said: “We are absolutely blown away by the generosity of Together For Cinema and all the suppliers who have donated products to make Derian at the Movies a reality. Stephen Nevison and the team from Intuitive Homes have gone above and beyond our wildest dreams to create a beautiful cinema room that will make a huge difference to the children, young people and families who come to Derian House.
“When you have a child with a life-limiting condition, simple things such as going to the cinema as a family can often seem impossible. Juggling accessibility issues, care needs and the needs of siblings means that our families often miss out.
“At Derian House, we do our very best to ensure our families get the same opportunities as everyone else. Our families can now book in for movie nights – complete with popcorn and snacks – enjoying precious time together making memories. “