The last couple of weeks have been mad in the Taylor-Trigwell household, so mad I thought I’d write a post to try to get my head around it all and to let our readers know a little about what we’ve been through in all the excitement.
So as everyone already seems to know, Marla had a 3d printed hand made for her by Andrew Lindsay at Newbury Hackspace. Around mid -December we were invited down to Hackspace for her to receive it. Our friends Stuart and Jo were going to be there too as Stuart had made the introduction for it all to be possible and as her godparents they obviously wanted to be there to see her open it.
Smart phones at the ready… We all filmed Marla opening it and got lots of photos too. We put a few photos onto our Facebook pages and Instagram accounts and they were met with some great responses. Our Facebook page on average used to get around 100 people reached when posts were added, this photo reached approx 7,000 people in a few days. We were over the moon.
Then I decided to put this one on our Instagram account, and within minutes I had to turn off the notifications on my phone while I was bombarded with likes, follows and some really lovely comments. We suddenly went from 30 odd followers to a couple of hundred and gained a few thousand likes.
Ok, so not huge, but more than we were used to and it was enough to get the attention of a reporter from the Newbury Weekly News who contacted Stuart and myself the next day. We had a telephone interview with him and the next day a reporter came out and met us at Hackspace to take some more photos.
We were told they were putting off releasing the article until the New Year so that they could reach more people with such a nice story, so in the meantime I started editing the video clips that we had taken and finally enlisted the help of my brother over in Vancouver to help with it – it pays to have an editor in the family. He put together a great clip and added music to it, giving it a really light and cheeky feel – it became immediately popular on Facebook and Instagram, with posts reaching over 17,000 people with over 7,000 views and it’s been shared all over the place.
Then Thursday 12th January arrived and the article hit the paper. They said they had wanted to wait until the right time, but what we didn’t realise was that it would be on the front page. When we went into our local paper shop to buy our copies everyone in the shop recognised Marla and said how great it was. She just looked a little confused bless her.
We received quite a few messages from friends in the area who suddenly saw Marla in the paper, but I also received a message on Facebook from a BBC producer. She said they wanted to do a story on South Today and arranged for a reporter to visit us at home the following Tuesday – my first thought was, oh [crikey] the house is a mess, and spent the next few days panic doing all those jobs that have put off for too long. Monday was spent on some last minute cleaning (meanwhile I’m feeling most impressed that it hasn’t returned to it’s normal state already) and a panic clothes shop with my friend Maja who reminded me that I have nothing to wear. 3 hours of searching for the right clothing that wasn’t trying to dress up too much but also trying not to look too much like a stay at home mum with the usual dubious stains that go with it, and we were ready. We had a call from the BBC on Monday evening to confirm details and also to invite us onto BBC Radio Berkshire on Wednesday morning for a live interview. That one got me panicking a bit – Summer, and Marla, live, on air, early in the morning, what could go wrong? Everything.
On Tuesday at 9:30am Little Daddad turned up at the house and took baby Summer out for us, then at 10:30 James Ingham arrived from the BBC and after some quick introductions he got stuck into filming Marla playing with and without her prosthetic on. He interviewed me on the sofa and copied the files we had from Marla receiving her hand, then we drove round to meet Andrew at Hackspace to do some further filming in there. By this time Marla was getting pretty tired and grumpy so it was time to call it a day. Later in the evening we realised James had edited Marla’s video that my brother had made and uploaded it to the South Today website, and it was already getting a lot of views, we wondered what the next day was going to have in store for us.
On the Wednesday morning we were all up at 6am, loaded the kids into the car and set off into rush hour for Reading and into the BBC monitoring station in Caversham. On the way we listened to Radio Berkshire and heard a the buildup for Marla coming in, then we heard the news come on and my voice came out of nowhere – they had used some of the interview that was filmed at home the day before, I just cringed – I guess no one likes the sound of their own voice. Marla looked pretty bemused by it all, but clearly couldn’t understand what on earth was going on. I went to the bbc.co.uk page to check the links and saw Marla’s video on the main page! I really wish I’d taken a screenshot of it because that’s probably a once in a life-time thing.
At just after 9am all 4 of us piled into the room to talk to Andrew Peach. I was asked to talk about Marla’s birth and her limb difference, Simon managed to talk a bit about the support we have had from Reach, but shortly after that while I was being asked about her prosthetics Summer started having a massive meltdown and screaming her lungs out. She didn’t calm down despite both Simon and I trying desperately to pacify her, so he ended up taking her out into the next room, leaving me and Marla. I got a chance to talk about the misconception around the 3d printed hands, hopefully getting the message out there that while they are brilliant, and a great psychological boost to her confidence to get a great first impression from people, they aren’t a replacement hand. And I also got to mention our blog too, so I was pretty happy with how it all went. Marla was really good throughout it, with the exception of whispering “mummy, mummy, I want chocolate” in the background, dropping her Dory toy and annoyingly correcting Andrew Peach that Dory is a girl, but they all added to her charm. She got to do a high-five with him before we left and they took a photo for the website.
Later that day we watched the South Today episode and saw the 2 minutes of footage that made it through to the final edit – there was a fair bit cut out, but what was left was done well, so we were happy with it. Marla again watched herself with bemusement – I think she’s just so used to seeing herself on iphone videos that we take that seeing herself on the telly wasn’t really registering as anything unusual. Still we have recorded the episode to keep for her 18th birthday or possible future blackmail with her teenage self.
This morning the local freebie paper landed on our doorstep with the NWN article and photos on the front page, Marla is getting quite blaise about it now, I think she thinks it’s normal to see your face in the newspaper each week. She’ll probably be quite disappointed next week when it’s all blown over.
It’s not all over yet though. Marla’s video on the South Today website is still meeting with huge positive response. It’s been shared everywhere and I’m frequently getting messages from friends or being tagged in random posts. My brothers YouTube video is suddenly getting a lot more views. A few more articles have appeared mentioning it too and NADHack are getting a lot of great coverage, so we’re really pleased about that. Andrew said he’d like to make more hands for other kids like Marla too, I think he’ll probably get to do it too.
Final thoughts on the whole experience – it’s been fun, I hope we’ve managed to get a positive message across that although Marla loves her new 3d printed hand, gets that great psychological boost of confidence from it and I’m sure will enjoy using it and impressing people with it for many years to come, hopefully people will realise that there are kids out there like Marla and that they aren’t to be pitied or prayed for, they are just as capable as everyone else. As Reach says “It’s ability not disability that matters”. There have however been a few things left out of what we’ve had to say to the media, and hopefully nothing came across as negative, particularly on the NHS ability to provide prosthetics like this – we have a great relationship with our limb centre and prosthetician and have received many useful tools and prosthetics from them and can’t fault what they have provided for Marla. Something I’d like to go into more detail in on another post one day.