In 2013 the Glovers decided to look at alternative ways of providing charitable support to complement their traditional approach to giving through the provision of gloves to deserving causes.
Following research by the Glovers Charitable Trust Board and Charity Projects Committee the decision was taken to focus on prosthetic hands for those that had either been born with limb difference or who had lost a hand through accident or medical disorder. Understanding that such an initiative might prove very popular and that the Company might receive an unmanageable number of requests for help, criteria were developed over time to identify the level of psychological, physical and financial hardship that applicants faced so that realistic priorities could be made.
The first recipient was a young lady, aged 19 and called Charlotte Hannibal, who had suffered damage to the fingers and palm of one hand (and lost both legs) after contracting meningitis whilst studying at Nottingham Trent University. Charlotte was the essence of courage; she displayed no self-pity but a determination to adapt and seek a fulfilling life despite these challenges. The Glovers contacted her with the help of the charity Meningitis Now and were delighted to be able to provide her with a cosmetic prosthetic hand which at the time she described as ‘life changing’. The term ‘Life Changing’ has become a bi-word now for those that are able to enhance their lives through the use of ever improving prosthesis. In turn she has been an ambassador for Meningitis Now and has supported the Glovers in their efforts to raise awareness of the life enhancing benefits of prosthesis. A wonderful story.
Charged by the success of this small project the Glovers sought to increase their ability to help others. As robotics improved and reduced in price (typically in excess of £75,000 each in 2015) the opportunities to help others increased.
The emergence of companies such as Open Bionics and Koalaa Sleeve have provided both the opportunity and impetus. Whilst Open Bionics provide a very high tech myoelectric prosthesis (called Hero Arm) which can be used for almost any task imaginable the Koalaa Sleeve is, necessarily, less high tech but significantly enhances the quality of life of children as they grow through to adulthood. The Glovers have now built a most constructive relationship with both companies and continue to watch for other companies as they prove the worth of their particular prosthesis and appear on the market.
Our understanding of the products available and the needs of individuals had come together by late 2019 allowing the Glovers to help 9 people of varying ages by providing 2 cosmetic prosthetic hands, 6 Hero Arms and a full set of cosmetic prosthetic fingers. The most recent recipient, Daniel Cant, was interviewed on Sky News https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=857083841688383&_rdr and the backstory here was compelling. Dan had been involved in a car accident in 2005 in which his fiancé was killed and he very nearly died. He lost an arm and shattered both legs and suffered from PTSD. After his long period of rehabilitation and learning to live with a heavy, cumbersome NHS prosthesis, he approached Open Bionics who in turn alerted the Glovers to his case. The Glovers feel privileged to have been able help him and to be part of his journey as the first limb difference person ordained by the Church of England.
Of course funding remains challenging so the Glovers have sought ways to increase their ability to help others. As it is, we are not yet able to support many applicants and, although rarely, if ever, turned away, they continue to remain on a waiting list as greater priorities come to light. Liverymen have been extraordinarily generous in getting this project underway but the Glovers are now undertaking events which it is hoped will appeal to the general public. One liveryman is completing a cross channel swim in her local swimming baths whilst the Master Glover, complete with tin hips, will be joined by Beverley Gormley, another Hero Arm recipient, and will be climbing Mt Snowdon in September.
The Glovers will be inviting the public to donate directly to each challenge or set up their own swimming or walking challenge with the funds raised going towards our aim of giving more recipients these life changing prosthetics.
It might seem this is all about the Glovers but we feel this is just a part of some outstanding charitable work that has been taking place across a number of Livery Companies and in particular during the Covid pandemic. The Livery Kitchen Initiative, supported by over 50 Livery Companies, springs to mind but there are of course many other smaller events such as ours that have been taking place throughout the year to help the less fortunate but which all add up to a much larger sum. And it is that which makes us appreciate being part of a body which does so much for others.