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Answering the Call. Again.

Six years ago I had no idea that children could be born simply missing a limb. I had no idea of the direction that our lives would take as a result of the birth of my grandson, Tommy. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a grandma (although they kids call me 'Mama' now) so was totally unprepared for the outpouring of love and the way this tiny baby would go on to alter the lives of hundreds of people.

And I certainly had never seen a 3D printer.

Fast forward to now and I’m a trustee of a charity called LimbBo Foundation and one of the things we do is help create and build prosthetic limbs for children through the magic of 3D printing. Working with the wonderful people at Team Unlimbited in Wales, we’ve created over 150 devices which have been 3D printed - from Peppa Pig arms to bike adaptations, from camera adaptations to books illustrated by Year-10 art students.

So, these days my daily (supposedly retired) life is one surrounded by limb-different children from all over the world along with filament orders, hardware accounts and prosthetics, not to mention fundraisers, bake sales, pancake mornings, 10ks (cheering from the side-lines, not running), t-shirt design, research interviews and email conversations with everyone from website designers to scared expectant mums.

In the middle of all this is Tommy. He tests our designs and those of others. He helps package products. He’s confident and will talk about his ‘little arm’. He’s the one that designers and researchers want to talk to. My love for him grows every single meeting. We even have a group of families that join us in meet-ups and are now lifelong friends.

And now we are doing our bit in the fight against Covid-19 and the battle to keep those at the front line safe.

A few weeks ago we answered the call when a 3D printing company in Prague put out an open source design for a medical shield to protect the wearer from the Coronavirus when treating patients. And we are delighted that as of today we are printing these from our backroom LimbBo HQ ‘factory’ in Barnsley to be used across the NHS locally.

If anyone reading this wants to contribute to our effort, both in supporting front-line NHS staff to keep safe at this difficult time as well as in helping children who are limb-different to do many of the activities they didn’t think they could do, then please drop us a line at

Regardless of what the news is at the minute - panic, fear, anger and more - all of these exist but underneath it there are people pushing notes through doors, singing on balconies, providing free hand sanitizers and more.

We know how it is, this movement from fear of the unknown to surviving and thriving to then reaching out to others in the process.  We know how the human spirit can not only survive but get stronger. For example, my social media timelines this morning are full of people offering either offering support with home learning or providing food for families who may struggle.

In any crisis, look for the helpers. If children are panicking, focus on the good

After all, it’s amazing what life can throw at you. It’s amazing how we are all capable of responding positively in our own way. And it’s amazing where that might lead when we are all faced with a crisis such as this.[ITL]

Jane Hewitt is a much-valued Associate in the background for Independent Thinking. Most of the photographs on this website are her work. To take them, she makes herself invisible.

Make a booking, ask a question, panic. All acceptable.

Give us a call on +44 (0)1267 211432 or drop us a line at

We promise to get back to you reassuringly quickly.