40 Years at Roehampton

40 Years at Roehampton

by David Godfree

I am an above knee prosthetics specimen. I am also an above knee orthotics specimen. It all happened on September 25th 1965 when I and I alone pranged my car seriously. I was wearing one of those then new seat belts which undoubtedly saved my life. My car rolled over and became a total wreck. It was a real smash!

However, nearly 35 years later I am still around at Roehampton LFC. I’ve been through industrial upheavals when Hanger’s were the contractors, who incidentally had fantastic prosthetists and orthotists. I can’t remember which stupid Government finally killed off Hanger’s. They were marvelous.

I’ve lived through further strikes and disasters when BTR were the contractors – what a disaster that was. Then there was the Vessa era, then the Blatchford’s era, and now RSL. One thing stands out a mile over this period. It is politics. Once the government – any government -starts interfering, the problems start and they continue and continue.

I hasten to add that all of these problems have not affected me personally. I have always had excellent service. I sort of jinxed my way through or past the problems as they arose. Once I returned to work, which I was very lucky to be able to do and to be accepted back, but due to Roehampton mainly, I never had a day off work because of my artificial limbs – not one – and I was working electrically in the oil and petrochemical industry during the 70s and 80s climbing dockside cranes for motor inspections, climbing wrought iron steps at refineries to inspect high level mounted equipment in or on catalytic cracking towers, and out to north sea platforms via helicopters, and all my “apparatus” stood up to it unfailingly.

I have been very lucky and really very satisfied with the service provided by Roehampton. What really makes me very angry indeed is the Media who do nothing but slam the industry. I was going to say all the time, but it hasn’t been all the time. It has been the last four or five years. I wrote to the television people and told them they should invite me on their programme instead of all the moaners who’ve only had their appliances two minutes. I didn’t even get a reply so with the permission of the User Group I wrote again on letter-headed paper. I got a reply then – not a good one – all apologetic for not replying to my first letter, but full of rubbish about how they needed to balance the programme. Yeah, all one way in favor of the complainers. That’s their view of balance. We never get a balanced view. Of course there are problems, but problems are made to be negotiated and solved, and I negotiate! HARD!

Now we have this Audit Commission report, again running down most things. I’ve read it and all I can say is “why wasn’t I asked a question?”.

The limb manufacturing industry is not bad, it is good. It sure has its problems, but so does every business. I think the guys and girls at Roehampton are great.