Cat no. 593

Dear Mum - Love Andrew

Running time24:33 Sound 1975 Hunstanton, Norfolk

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A Thames Television film made as part of the long running children’s series “Magpie.” This shows disabled children on holiday at the “Break Children’s Holiday Centre” at Hunstanton.



The first scenes of this film are shot at Andrew’s home in Hounslow before the holiday. Andrew is playing in the garden with his siblings and friends. He goes inside to talk to his mother who is ironing. He speaks of the difficulty he has in making friends and of the attitudes of able bodied children towards disability. We see a shot of an electric train and then the interior with some of the children aboard. This is intercut with scenes of the domestic staff at the home sitting in the kitchen and making plans for the holiday and cooking. The children arrive at the home in the break mini-bus, sponsored by ‘Magpie.’ Some are lifted out by helpers. The film shows the interior of the home, including one of the bedrooms.

On the green at Hunstanton, Hunstanton Pier in the background, the children watch and listen to the Radio 1 Road Show. Andrew and one of the able bodied helpers, Neil, are interviewed by DJ Paul Burnett. This sequence ends with the children and their helpers wheelchair racing across the green.

At the home the children have a meal. Here we meet Derris and Andrew begins to talk about the other children on the holiday and their disabilities. Derris touches the camera. Andrew explains that he wants to feel the vibrations because that is how he understands things. One of the things Andrew likes about the home is that the children have the freedom to come and go if they are able to. He is pleased that he and Leslie were able to go and post a letter without supervision. Other holidays he has been on he had to be supervised all of the time. The children are taken shopping in Hunstanton and Andrew tells the viewer about Leslie. Andrew explains that Leslie has gone from home to home all of is life, he feels that Leslie’s situation is far worse than his.

In Norwich we meet Leslie who walks around the town and talks about the differences between London and Norwich. Back at the home the children play records and play in the garden. Andrew explains more about the children. There is Maureen, a Downs Syndrome child, who has no sense of direction or sense of danger. She has to be kept on reins. Kelly, who shyly points to the camera when she realises it is pointing at her, is a “chatterbox.” Kelly operates the clapper board from her wheelchair. Andrew climbs into the van and pretends to drive, explaining that he has always been around cars and vans. In a sequence filmed along a river bank Andrew tells the viewer of his love of fishing. He was given a fishing rod for his birthday but hasn’t used it yet because Rees, his stepfather, hasn’t had time to take him. The children are seen about the home and in the garden. Andrew talks about one of the younger children, Leo. He doesn’t know what is wrong with Leo, but he is “a bit wobbly” and has difficulty talking. Leo talks to the camera from his wheelchair. In the kitchen of the home, the domestic staff plan the next day whilst Leslie washes up.

The children and helpers are filmed on the assault course at Holt Hall. They are also filmed horse riding and canoeing. In a sequence that mixes scenes from the beach and the garden, Andrew talks about some other children. There are Robert and Russell who don’t appear to understand what is going on, yet when Andrew was trying to walk without his sticks they brought them to him. There is David Mariner, who is deaf, yet lip reads. The film ends with scenes of the children on the beach, where Andrew finally gets round to writing that postcard to mum.

Featured People:

Paul Burnett, DJ

Featured Organisations:

The Break Children’s Holiday Centre

Featured Events:

Radio 1 Road Show

Featured Buildings:

Norwich Cathedral

Thames Television

Darrol Blake

Darrol Blake

Frank Hodge

Humphrey Dixon

Ron Thomas; Freddie Slade

Helen Blake (Researcher); Sue Turner (Executive Producer)

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