Youngsters in the frame for some fun

CELIA WIGG Faces glowed with eager anticipation yesterday as a group of young film-makers saw their work on screen for the first time.


Faces glowed with eager anticipation yesterday as a group of young film-makers saw their work on screen for the first time.

The youngsters are all members of a special siblings support group, set up by East Anglia's Children's Hospices (Each) for the brothers and sisters of life-threatened children who receive care at the charity's Norfolk centre at Quidenham.

When someone in the family is seriously ill, children can sometimes become isolated from their friends and normal everyday life. And one of the key elements of the group work is that they are able to talk to other young people with similar thoughts and worries - discussing the good times as well as sharing their problems and concerns.

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The children also go on outings and have fun together - as was clearly illustrated yesterday from the peals of laughter as they watched their own acting and film-making skills revealed in light-hearted videos featuring a duck-eating extra-terrestrial magic mushroom and a bizarre kidnap plot.

“For the people who are in our position and have lost someone young who is close to them, it's good to be in an environment where people understand,” said 14-year-old Will Arundell, who attends the sessions at Mangreen Hall, near Norwich, with brothers Greg, 12, and Tom, 11.

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“We came when the group started four or five months ago. We have had a few discussions since then and all the people here are really friendly - all the helpers and the kids, and this is a great place to be!”

Greg added: “In our case you look forward to it on the Friday. You can just forget about everything else and just focus on the place.”

The boys, from Norwich, were bubbling over with enthusiasm about their films. “It was really fun. I have always liked acting,” Tom said.

Their elder brother, Edward, suffered from LG Syndrome, a form of severe childhood epilepsy, and died at the end of September just before his 16th birthday.

East Anglian-based Sparks worked closely with Quidenham staff in making the films. The company is run by Hazel Dormer and Linzi Stivey who spent time in a hospice herself after being diagnosed with cancer.

“I did a course in art therapy and my vision was to go and work particularly with hospices and it's fab,” she explained.

They taught the children how to use a camera - offering help and guidance to the three teams who were each given a set of props, a film genre of either horror or soaps, and encouragement to “get out their and enjoy themselves”.

Each also has centres at Ipswich and Milton in Cambridgeshire, and last year helped 348 children with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions across the region, also providing bereavement counselling for 46 families which continues for up to three years after the death of a child.

Simon Hempsall, the charity's marketing and communications manager, said: “When the hospice movement first started it was mainly respite care in the hospice itself, but as time goes on we start meeting the needs of the families. We find more and more the need to provide family support in the hospice or the home.”

For further information about Each visit the website

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