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Door to freedom.

  • Pickles, Wilfred.
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About this work


This film shows the work of the National Spastics Society (soon to become the Spastics Society) at the Wilfred Pickles School for younger children, the Thomas Delarue school for secondary school age children and many other centres. The narrator visits the head quarters in Fitzroy Square to view expansion plans. Wilfred Pickles appears at the end to make an appeal.


UK : Scope, 1956.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (31.49 mins.) : sound, color



Copyright note


Terms of use


Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Produced by and directed by Ian Sinclair, devised and narrated by John Slater, photographed by Henry Hall, sound by Allan Vetter, musical direction by Merrick Farren. A Sovereign Production for the National Spastics Society. Featuring Wilfred Pickles.


This film was donated to Wellcome Trust by Scope.


Segment 1 Opening credits. The narrator, John Slater, sits in a living room and explains to the viewer that he is going to tell a story about 'the hard facts of life'. A children's birthday party is seen. The children are having tea when Jeremy, a little boy with cerebral palsy, is brought in. The other mothers talk about him and the children think he is funny. Jeremy's mother talks to John Slater about having Jeremy assessed by a panel of experts from the National Spastics Society. A tour of British centres for the treatment and education of disabled people begins. First, the Wilfred Pickles School in the east Midlands is seen. The classroom and a physical therapy session are shown. The therapist manipulates a boy's lips as part of speech therapy. At playtime the children ride on tricycles. The headmaster talks to the children at lunchtime. In the evening, the children wash and go to bed in dormitories. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:05:34:22 Length: 00:05:34:22
Segment 2 Next, the Thomas Delarue School in Kent for teenagers is seen. The teachers are seen interviewing and selecting candidates for entry into the school. A maths class is seen; there is a complicated formula on the blackboard, and the narrator explains that the children receive a high standard of education. Students are seen practicing walking with the aid of sticks and leg braces. One boy progresses from walking with a frame to walking with crutches. Mona is seen having speech therapy; a recording of her speech made three years previously is played, followed by a recent recording. Her speech has improved. The students play cricket and study nature in the school grounds. Time start: 00:05:34:22 Time end: 00:09:57:02 Length: 00:04:22:05
Segment 3 The Prested Hall Centre near Colchester is seen next. This is a centre for adults; Mr Whitcomb is having walking lessons, which he began aged 32. The narrator says that this opportunity should have been available many years before then. Two men play chess. In a workroom, men weave baskets, make stools and turn standards for table lamps. A woman makes flower arrangements. The men play pool together. Next, Irton Hall School in Cumberland is seen, which provides facilities for children with both physcial and mental disbilities. Then Hawksworth Hall Assessment Centre for Spastic Children is seen. This centre is for the observation and testing of disabled children to work out the most suitable education and training provision. Then Daresbury Hall in Lancashire, home to 25 men with cerebral palsy, is seen. Coombe Farm Centre in Surrey, a home for severely disabled young people, appears next. At the weekend, relatives visit. A barn is shown that the centre wants to convert into extra training space. Time start: 00:09:57:02 Time end: 00:15:21:02 Length: 00:05:24:00
Segment 4 The narrator explains that some people with cerebral palsy are trained and become employed. The Sherrards Training Centre in Hertfordshire is shown. Men undertake light work in a workshop; drilling holes for electrical parts for example. A row of people work at a bench assembling welding rod holders. Men make racks and tin containers. A woodwork section uses electric drills and saws. Two young men make pokers for household use; they clown around pretending the pokers are swords. The narrator emphasises that more sheltered workshops are needed. The workers make National Spastics Society collection boxes. Time start: 00:15:21:02 Time end: 00:20:49:05 Length: 00:05:28:03
Segment 5 Two factories, ICI and Ascot, employ disabled people. They are seen working in the factories. The Stars Organisation, a celebrity group that helps raise money for the Society, are seen at an opening of a holiday home in Bexhill-on-Sea for disabled children. Vera Lynn, the head of the Stars Organisation, is there. John Slater then visits the headquarters of the National Spastics Society and receives a tour. Women sort through postal donations of money. The medical research programme is discussed. Examples of society publications and magazines are seen. Christmas cards made by people with cerebral palsy are seen. In the record office, they look at case files of children who need places in specialist schools but are on waiting lists due to lack of space. Mary Robinson and Jimmy Green, two such children, are seen at home, looking sad. Jimmy has three stars on his folder, indicating that he has been on a waiting list for three years. Time start: 00:20:49:05 Time end: 00:25:18:15 Length: 00:04:29:10
Segment 6 Sarah Chandler, who got a place through the waiting list at Craig y Parc school near Cardiff, is seen. The children at the school are woken in the morning. A physical therapy session, maths class, playtime and puppet show are seen. The house mother at the school also has cerebral palsy. The schoolchildren sing the hymn 'To be a Pilgrim' as the narrator reiterates the need for more workshops, schools and special education centres such as this. John Slater is seen in a living room once more, joined by Wilfred Pickles, who asks, 'Just what are we going to do about it?' He stresses that the society needs more help and more money and says, 'Please help spastics'. Time start: 00:25:18:15 Time end: 00:31:49:03 Length: 00:06:30:13


  • English

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