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Oscar winner opens hospice’s new cinema

Oscar winner Rachel Shenton officially opened a new, state-of-the-art cinema room at Dougie Mac’s children’s services last week.

The cinema room has been kitted out with a 3m wide screen, surround sound, a twinkling starlight ceiling and acoustic panelling. There is space to accommodate wheelchairs and beds, plus seating for friends, family and carers. Every aspect of the room has been donated by Together for Cinema, a good cause enterprise whose focus is to design and install home cinema rooms in children’s hospices and other suitable locations across the UK.

It was opened by former Hollyoaks star Ms Shenton, who in 2018 won an Academy award for her short film The Silent Child, helping to generate awareness and an understanding of deafness, a disability she said was seldom seen in television and film. The Silent Child, directed by Ms Shenton’s now-husband, Chris Overton, followed a six-year-old girl named Libby, played by Maisie Sly, who is deaf and living in a world of silence until a social worker teaches her to use sign language to communicate.

Ms Shenton’s experience of the disability arrived aged 12 when her father became deaf after undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

The BBC reported that Ms Shenton said she was “very passionate” about cinema and “everybody having access to story and drama”.

She added: “I’m really, really impressed by the space. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t quite this.”

Over four weeks, Together for Cinema, working with local AV installer Trusted Technology, transformed an unused room at the Grace Road site into the cinema room. The cost of the project was around £90,000, with all costs covered by Together for Cinema.

David Webster, chief executive of Dougie Mac, said: “While a visit to the cinema is a fairly common experience for most people, for the families we support it’s a huge challenge, as many of the children have serious medical and mobility issues.

“This means that families rarely get the opportunity to enjoy something as simple as watching a film together. Our wonderful new cinema room means that we now have a safe, comfortable space where families can relax, enjoy a film and make memories together.

“On behalf of everyone at Dougie Mac, the children, young adults and families, we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at Together for Cinema and Trusted Technology for your vision and hard work in creating this amazing cinema room.”

Ian Morrish, founder of Together for Cinema said: “This was Together For Cinema’s 35th good cause cinema room installation and took the Together For Cinema good cause community delivery to over the £835,000 worth of installations, had they all been paid for.

“Dougie Mac’s cinema room was our most expensive and comprehensive installation so far.

Had it been paid for, the total cost, including consultation, design, installation and all the products, would have been in the region of £90,000.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who came together to make the installation possible, and I hope it will give lots of pleasure for many years to come.”

Dougie Mac, which has been heavily funded by Betchton entrepreneur Denise Coates of Bet365, also runs Trentham children’s hospice the Donna Louise Trust.

(Photos: Dougie Mac/Together for Cinema).

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