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Every eight hours.

  • Dimbleby, Richard.
  • Videos

About this work


Narrated by Richard Dimbleby, this touching and informative film traces the history and work of the National Spastics Society. The film takes its title from the fact that at the time the film was made, every eight hours a child with cerebral palsy was being born in Britain. After Dimbleby presents a brief history, various educational establishments run by the Spastic Society are seen: assessment centre Hawkstone Hall, Wilfred Pickles School, Thomas Delarue grammar school, Sherards, a training centre, and Daresbury Hall, a home for severely disabled people. Then medical experts and staff from the Spastics Society discuss plans for the future.


UK : Scope, 1960.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (33.38 min.) : sound, black and white




Copyright note


Terms of use


Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Narrated by Richard Dimbleby. Made by Libertas Films. Camerman Gerry Moss, assistant director Michael Pidcock, production assistant Tony Brown, script by Phil Wrestler, sound by Ken Cameron, commentary written by James Cameron, producer Margaret K. Johns and directed by Phil Wrestler.


This film was donated to Wellcome Trust by Scope.


Segment 1 Over shots of busy London streets, narrator Richard Dimbleby discusses everything that is needed to keep such a busy city going. He compares this to a human brain but says that in fact, the brain is far more complex than a large city. In a dramatisation, London's central telephone exchange is bombed. A wreckage is seen and quiet, empty streets. He says that the body depends on communication as does London. A young boy with cerebral palsy is seen. Illustrations show the areas of brain that are affected in spastic, athetoid and ataxic types of cerebral palsy. A newborn baby is seen and Dimbleby says that every eight hours a child with cerebral palsy is born. Opening credits. A map of England is seen and the narrator says that there are 40,000 people with cerebral palsy living in England at the moment. Dimbleby is seen in a studio; he begins a brief history of treatment of people with cerebral palsy in Britain, beginning in 1943 when the first spastic centre was started by a physiotherapist. He discusses other milestones, including the beginning of the National Spastics Society in 1951. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:05:49:10 Length: 00:05:49:10
Segment 2 Dimbleby discusses the Spastics Society's publicity and money-raising drives. The society aimed to raise £1 million. Various donation boxes are placed in shops and pubs, and many celebrities also helped by supporting the Society; stars such as Tommy Cooper and Richard Attenborough are seen. The Society then decides to raise a total of £3 million by 1959. This is achieved. Next, Dimbleby explains how this money is spent. Assessment centre Hawksworth Hall is seen; children are seen playing and sleeping in dormitories. A doctor examines a young boy. Experts have meetings to discuss the best type of school for the children to go on to. Time start: 00:05:49:10 Time end: 00:10:14:12 Length: 00:04:25:02
Segment 3 Next the Wilfred Pickles residential school for 5-16 year olds is seen. A disabled boy uses a typewriter, and another boy uses a tool to push the keys of his typewriter. The boys play cricket and the girls play netball, Dimbleby describing the children as having 'healthy adaptability'. Then the Thomas Delarue grammar school is seen. The students sing in a choir and study GCE maths. The older students are seen in their business class learning typing and secretarial work. A workshop is seen; the boys use tools and the girls sew. One girl sews sails for model boats. The girls also learn cookery and domestic science; Dimbleby says, 'they may be handicapped but they can still be a housewife'. Dr Wall, Director of the National Foundation for Educational Research discusses the challenges that children with cerebral palsy can present. He plays a distorted audio tape to show how children with hearing problems hear. He explains that more money and more research and research staff are needed. Time start: 00:10:14:12 Time end: 00:16:42:12 Length: 00:06:28:00
Segment 4 Sherard's, a training centre, is seen. Men work in a workshop; they also make the Society's collecting boxes. Residential home Daresbury Hall is seen next; the residents play chess, paint and four men all work together to make a carpet on a loom. Other residential schools and centres are listed and shown on a map of Britain. Then Stockport, a local centre that provides education and training is seen. A physiotherapy session for a young girl is seen. A nurse helps her learn to crawl. The narrator discusses the growth of the Society, including the creation of a research physican post at Guy's Hospital. Time start: 00:16:42:12 Time end: 00:21:26:01 Length: 00:04:44:14
Segment 5 A boy with cerebral palsy is seen working in a classroom; the narrator explains that he has passed his GCE. Other disabled young people are introduced and the narrator asks what will happen to them in the future. Plans for new buildings and centres are discussed. Dr Stevens, Director of the Society, has a discussion with the Society's Medical Advisory Committee Chairman about reducing premature births and further medical research. Time start: 00:21:26:01 Time end: 00:27:19:14 Length: 00:05:53:13
Segment 6 They continue their discussion. They wonder how much money they need, and point out that a reserve of money will be needed in case a really exciting discovery occurs that needs further investigation. Dr Stevens then interviews Dr Paul Palarney, Head of Research at the Society. He describes the groups he wishes to set up, including a chromosome study group and a biomedical group. At the end of the film, Bill Hargreaves, a man with cerebral palsy and the Society's Industrial Liaison Officer, talks about himself, saying he has a wife and two 'bonny children'. He shows his hands and says that even though they appear normal, they were once very clumsy. He also mentions prejudice against people with cerebral palsy. He discusses two children, who are seen, who have had to learn how to walk at a later age, and a man who had his hand amputated and replaced with a hook so that he could work. Richard Dimbleby concludes the film by repeating the fact that every eight hours, a baby with cerebral palsy is born. Time start: 00:27:19:14 Time end: 00:33:38:19 Length: 00:06:19:05


  • English

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