MAY 2012: THE FITTING ROOM film project begins! 

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If you are the user of a prosthetic limb, you will need to visit a Limb Fitting Centre throughout your whole life.If you rely on a prosthetic limb for your everyday mobility the Centre becomes as important to you as your work, family and friends.

This is because prosthetic limbs need to be repaired and replaced, and throughout your life you will experience the challenges of the fitting room. It is where you work with your prosthetist to try and achieve a successful prosthesis. But the creativity and problem solving of this collaboration between amputee and prosthetist are rarely communicated.

In 2009, at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital’s Prosthetic Rehabilitation Centre, discussions in the Women’s Fitting Room revealed that many of the women wanted to meet up more often because they gained so much from talking to each other, and outside the fitting room there were so few opportunities to share their lives. Two women decided to create a Facebook group called Fitting Room Friends, to keep in touch and create more possibilities for support. Fitting Room Friends has become a steadily expanding support network, with the group discovering that regular contact with other users reduces isolation and brings insight into their rehabilitation. 

When the government commissioned Dr. Murrison’s 2011 report into the NHS provision of prosthetics, the Fitting Room Friends decided they wanted to contribute to the debate by creating a film that would share their everyday lives, with the aim of encouraging amputees of all ages and genders throughout the UK to gain inspiration and support from each other, and to be each other’s role models. To fund the film and facilitate its production, Pegleg Productions applied to The Big Lottery Awards for All and in April 2012 the Fitting Room Friends received the news that their bid had been successful!

The process of filming now begins. Watch this space.

July 2012: Filming at the Prosthetics Rehabilitation Centre

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The rain stopped and we were able to film outside. We wanted to film Nicola's 'test run' from the Centre to the Fishing Lake near the RNOH entrance. It's a walk Nicola has been doing for 20 years whenever she has to test a new prosthesis, and Joni Juutilainen of OTSO film designed a marvellous headcam to show her POV. We also filmed another Fitting Room Friend in her adapted car:

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Marga Doek of OTSO film and sound recordist Xan Marquez:

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Photographs by Beatrice Plunkett

 

It's AUGUST 29th 2012!

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Pegleg Productions wants to celebrate the opening of the Paralympic Games by showing this still from THE FITTING ROOM collaborative film project: the moment when 4 women met in the Fitting Room to film their prosthetic limbs.

At the beginning there were just 2 women in the group - then there were 4 and now 12 and still growing...

The Paralympic Games and all the amputee athletes  are changing people's perception of limb loss. Like the women in THE FITTING ROOM project they all experience the challenges, disapointments and achievements of the Fitting Room. Big congratulations to all the athletes!  

As we film THE FITTING ROOM, we make new discoveries about the layers of history within the RNOH site.

Here is the motto on the rusting old gates to the main entrance, a quote from the last verse of William Blake's poem 'The Divine Image':

"And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too."

The plaques were made in 1930 by the Arts & Craft jeweller and maker Alwyn Carr. Photographs by Marga Doek.

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September 2012:

We are finalising the filming- 4 more filming days to go, if we can perfectly co-ordinate locations, people and crew...

It's also timely to remember why we are making this film: to communicate our personal experiences of prosthetics:

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A memory of bare legs in the summer, and the complex reality of replacing lost limbs...

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This prosthesis looks battered and strange: but it is wonderfully comfortable.

Remembrance Sunday: November 11th 2012

THE FITTING ROOM remembers the huge impact of war on prosthetics: creating the need for them and the response of design and technology to the challenges of replacing lost limbs.

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In World War One, over 240,000 British soldiers lost limbs. Here we see a group photograph communicating the support they gained from each other - as do the Fitting Room Friends.

Until very recently, there were very few representations of women amputees. The majority of images are military and masculine, with women  as nurses and carers:

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THE FITTING ROOM remembers all those who lost limbs throughout all conflicts.

Swimming:

Swimming is an important issue for the Fitting Room Friends and we decided we had to represent that in our film. Soon we shall be filming a spectacular group swimming session at the Aspire Centre's beautiful and accessible pool. Meanwhile, a member of the group tries out her new 'water activity limb' on holiday for the first time...

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April 16th 2013:

The Fitting Room Friends respond to the tragic events in Boston:

"At least two traumatic amputees, brothers who were supporting a friend. Sad and difficult times. Harrowing."

"The beginning of their long and difficult journey."


April 27th 2013:

Fitting Room Friends meet up for coffee - and one of us just can't resist showing off her new 'DIVA' prosthesis! As she says: " The DIVA gets all the attention but let me remind you ladies, she is NOTHING without me!"

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May 12th 2013:

Gill Hicks, a member of the Fitting Room Friends, lost both her legs in London's 7/7 bombings. THE FITTING ROOM shares her response to the Boston bombings:

 http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/03/opinion/london-bomb-survivor-boston/index.html

May 21st 2013:      

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THE FITTING ROOM  is getting close to completion and we are excited... tomorrow we meet to finalise the date and venue for our screening and panel discussion. Meanwhile, here is a taster of the Fitting Room Friends getting creative at the Aspire Centre poolshoot:

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June 2013:

The time for presenting THE FITTING ROOM  at the RNOH is approaching fast. One of the stars of our film has created special name badges for us all:

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The Fitting Room Friends are working hard on preparations for THE FITTING ROOM screening. Here are some stills from the film to celebrate approaching 10,000 hits for Pegleg Productions:   

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There is the exterior world as well as the interior world of THE FITTING ROOM:

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June 24th 2013:

The RNOH have generously allowed us to screen our preview of THE FITTING ROOM at the Herbert Seddon Teaching Centre on the hospital site.  On July 3rd The Fitting Room Friends will welcome  family, friends, staff and clinicians from the Prosthetics Rehabilitation Unit and the RNOH,  professionals from other London hospitals and rehabilitation units, colleagues from Disability Arts organisations leading charities and many more...

We are working hard preparing for the Preview and we are looking forward to it. Here is the eloquent piece written by 2 Fitting Room Friends to accompany the screening:

 “One meets the most inspirational women in the Ladies Fitting Room, here in the Prosthetic Rehabilitation Unit at Stanmore’s Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The Fitting Room is not a hospital clinic: it is a highly exclusive club. A club that one would not choose to join but if due to unforeseen circumstances you do become a member you are one for life.

“Fitting Room Friends’ began as a closed, invitation-only Facebook group because we needed a way to keep in contact with the inspirational women that we meet in the Ladies Fitting Room. We have a collective bond, an inner understanding where words are not necessary. Through the project we can share experiences, genuine understanding and give collective support.

“The group is steadily growing and through making this film we have been able to express how amputation has changed all parts of our lives. Amputation is not something that we will ever ‘get over’; it is - as many have said - the startof a second, but different life.

“As amputees we all have challenges that non-amputees will never truly be able to comprehend. But the fitting room is not full of doom and gloom, it is full of women who against all odds will fight the challenges before them and in unity inspire each other. The fitting room is full of strength, laughter and hope.

“Through our support, inspiration and encouragement for each other we have become stronger and have formed bonds that will never be broken. We are all equal whatever our backgrounds or circumstances and we are here for each other.We have enjoyed making this film and we all hope that it will give you a brief insight into our exclusive and challenging world.”

 

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The Fitting Room Friends and Pegleg Productions want to thank everyone who helped to make this project possible: the RNOH and Prosthetics Rehabilitation Unit; Beatrice Plunkett of Pegleg Productions; the creative team from OTSO film; all our family, friends and supporters...

And a very big thank you to BIG Lottery!!

July 3rd 2013:

The Fitting Room Friends and Pegleg Productions presented a special 'preview premiere' of THE FITTING ROOM to a packed audience in the Herbert Seddon Teaching Centre at the RNOH, with family,friends and supporters, clinicians, Oxford University professors and students, other Prosthetic Rehabilitation Centres and many more... 

The Fitting Room Friends who participated in the film were seeing it for the first time and so were the clinicians who had agreed to be filmed. It's a challenging moment. But the Fitting Room Friends were dressed up, relaxed and professional...they meeted and greeted, organised the feedback forms and seating, and radiated confidence.

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Tony Higgins, Communications Manager of the RNOH, was making sure it all  ran smoothly, and supported us in every way.

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As the Director of THE FITTING ROOM, I was probably the most nervous of us all. But in this film I had the the most amazing, committed collaborators and I think we all knew that we had created something special...I introduced the film and the lights dimmed.

'Show, don't tell'  is an important principle of filmmaking. I think our faces after the film finished tells all. The audience laughed, listened, gasped, and applauded long and loud. We had succeeded in communicating something of our personal experience of prosthetics. In the feedback form one of our prosthetists wrote: " ...you’ve managed to present the subject in a new light..."

Here we get ready for the Q&A after the screening...

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A member of the audience from another Prosthetics Rehabilitation Centre wrote:

"Having spent many hours in fitting rooms over the last 26 years I felt a deep connection to the ladies in the film. From the isolation and worry of not knowing the procedures involved in getting a new leg as a new amputee to the feeling that being part of a limb centre is where you feel at ‘home’. So many issues were covered in the film that it is hard to remember them all. The roll of your prosthetist was touched on, not just as someone who makes your limbs but as an ongoing relationship, getting a good fitting socket is paramount to how you will be able to live your life and how you are able to live your life impacts not just on you but the people around you. 

"I felt this particularly with the lady who felt she had to keep her leg on even when she was exhausted as her family preferred to see her as ‘normal’. It is sometimes easy to overlook the impact that an amputation has on close family and friends, that they too have to come to terms with the huge changes amputation can bring, not only body image but what is physically achievable. "

"Body image I believe is a massive topic. With only positive images shown in the media it is easy to think that an amputations has little impact on the lives of the people who have suffered the trauma. Heather Mills skates and dances and has an array of legs for the gym, for going out with heels, with flat feet for the casual days etc. etc. This is the exception rather than the rule and I think this film showed the realistic truth for most of us..."

"What I liked most about The Fitting Room was the progress in self-confidence you ladies had made by talking to one another, the non-judgmental attitude and most of all the unwavering support, understanding and humour. An inspiring, moving, engaging film."

September 2013:

The holidays are over and it's time to remind you all that THE FITTING ROOM film has not disappeared... it's life in the outside world is just beginning, so watch this space for developments. Onwards!

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March 12th 2014:

THE FITTING ROOM film will soon be screening in London...

Meanwhile, check out page 7 of 'Empower Magazine' for an article about our screening at a prosthetics company's 'Ladies Day':

MAY 5th 2014:

Pegleg Productions and the Fitting Room Friends have been working hard to organise the public screening of THE FITTING ROOM film, just announced as a News Flash on Pegleg's Home page! We are very excited to be screening at the Wellcome Collection and all details for booking will be posted soon.

We want to thank all you visitors to this site - over 20,800 and climbing! .So many people have expressed interest in THE FITTING ROOM, and Pegleg Productions wants to  keep working to spread the word, share the insights and ask the questions that have come out of THE FITTING ROOM project.

Meanwhile we need to raise £2,000 for running costs and any contribution is very welcome! We shall post news about the progress of our fundraising on this blog, as well as announcing the details of THE FITTING ROOM screening.

Thank you to all our supporters! 

JUNE 18th 2014:

On Thursday June 5th THE FITTING ROOM film was screened in the Henry Wellcome Auditorium to a wonderful audience. There were User Groups from London and beyond,  clinicians and prosthetists, the Limbless Association and the Bader Foundation, artists,medical students and representatives of Big Lottery - all of our funders were there, and the room was buzzing... 


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The response to  the screening has been marvellous - Pegleg Productions thanks all those who have written to praise the film and its insights into the challenging and humourous world of the fitting room.

Check out THE FITTING ROOM trailer here:

https://vimeo.com/67802654

Check out a great piece about the film on the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-27794128

 

July 2014

Check out my article about THE FITTING ROOM for BMJ blogs here:


http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2014/07/03/nicola-lane-from-facebook-to-film-the-journey-of-the-fitting-room-friends/

DECEMBER 3rd 2015: International Day of Disabled People

Pegleg Productions remembers all amputees as conflicts injure more and more people throughout the world.

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JULY 7th 2016:

Pegleg Productions remembers all those Fitting Room Friends whose lives were changed forever by the London bombings on 7/7.

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On that day I had an early appointment at RNOH Stanmore Prosthetics Centre. The television was on in the Ladies Fitting Room, and I half watched it as I waited for my prosthetist.

The atmosphere in the Centre began to change. Many people were late for work, and I saw clinicians and staff on their phones trying to get through to colleagues. On the television the News also changed- from reports of 'an electrical disturbance' on the Underground to reports of a 'major incident'. It began to be clear that terrible events were happening.

Doctors and prosthetists came into the fitting room to watch the unfolding news. No one spoke. In the reception area, a roomful of patients waiting for appointments also watched the news in silence.

We all knew- doctors, prosthetists and patients- that soon the victims would be coming to Stanmore, their lives changed forever.

We were silent because we understood the magnitude of the changes they would face.