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Old 24-10-17, 11:09   #1
 
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Movies Breathe>New Movie>True Story of Army Officer Paralysed For Life

Breathe - 27 October 2017

'I FOUGHT FOR HIM' Emotional Film Breathe Starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy Honours Couple who Changed Views on Disability After a Sudden Paralysis.

The inspiring true love story of Robin and Diana Cavendish, an adventurous couple who refuse to give up in the face of a devastating disease. Their heartwarming celebration of human possibility

Polio struck Army Officer Robin Cavendish at lightning speed leaving him paralysed for life and the young dad-to-be was told he just had three months to live. He had been leaping about on a tennis court just hours earlier.

His pregnant wife Diana spent the next 35 years fighting to show him life was worth living
.

The Sun UK, 24 OCT 2017.






Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy star in emotional new film Breathe about a couple who changed views on disability


Every moment of those months would be spent in hospital, hooked up to a breathing machine, unable to move from the neck down.
So he begged his pregnant wife Diana, 25, to turn off the machine and let him go, so that she could be free to “start again”.

Diana refused — and took on the medical profession and medical science to not only bring her beloved husband home, but to let him live a full and rich life for another 35 years.

Along the way, the couple and their inventor friends created the first wheelchair with a portable respirator and changed the world’s attitude towards the disabled.





Ex-Army officer Robin Cavendish was paralysed for life at 28 after being struck with polio



Now their story is being told in an emotional movie opening this Friday, starring The Crown actress Claire Foy as Diana and Amazing Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield as Robin.

Titled Breathe, it was produced by the couple’s son Jonathan, who made the Bridget Jones films, and directed by Gollum actor Andy Serkis.

In an exclusive interview Diana, now 83, told The Sun: “I never considered letting him die, not at all.”





Robin's wife Diana, who was pregnant with their son Jonathan, pictured, had to fight to convince her husband to stay alive But she did not just have to argue her case to doctors that he could have a decent life — she also had to talk Robin around.


She said: “It was incredibly difficult to convince him life was worth living.
“Sometimes he was terribly depressed. He was a young, healthy, athletic young man who was completely in control of his life and suddenly, bang, it was all gone.”

Diana had been watching Robin play that last game of tennis in 1958, on what had seemed a typically idyllic day for the glamorous pair.





Diana, with Claire Foy who plays her in the film, and Andrew Garfield who plays her husband The couple had married in 1957 and moved to Kenya where Robin had set up as a tea trader and they were living an exotic life of expats in the then-British colony.


After his diagnosis, the couple was flown home in a military aircraft equipped with a breathing machine, and Robin was installed in a hospital in Oxford for what he was told would be the rest of a short life.

When Diana protested, she was told that if she tried to take him home and put him on a respirator, he would die within two weeks.

But the young mum, who by this stage had given birth to son Jonathan, told Robin she would get him home no matter what.

The couple were living in Kenya at the time of Robin's diagnosis - and he was flown home where he was told he would spend the rest of his life in hospital She would defy the authorities and get him discharged, even though nobody with that degree of disability had ever left hospital before.



She recalled: “He cheered up a lot when he thought he might be able to leave hospital. They didn’t want Robin to leave.
“Doctors think they are gods, don’t they? It set a precedent, nobody had been able to get out hospital before.”

With the help of family and friends and using their savings, Diana set up a home for the couple in Oxfordshire, complete with a breathing machine.




Breathe stars: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy



Diana would defy the authorities to allow Robin to become the first person of that degree of disability to be discharged from hospital Those first days were harrowing.


Diana explained: “When Robin did first come out of hospital you did live on a knife edge because in the early days if it stopped or became unplugged you had to react fairly quickly.
“It stopped quite a few times. You then had to operate the hand pump.”

At first Robin was still bed-bound, but their friend, the scientist Teddy Hall — best known for proving the Piltdown Man fossils were a fraud — came up with a way to free him.
He invented a battery-powered breathing machine that could be attached to a wheelchair.

A van was adapted to carry Robin and one time they even loaded the vehicle up onto an aeroplane so he could make a dream holiday to Spain.





Hugh Boneville plays the couple's inventor friend Teddy who created a battery-powered breathing machine that could be attached to a wheelchair



Diana said: “We had some very difficult times, but we also had a lot of fun. My husband was very out going, he loved people.
“If you are going to be very disabled I think it is easier to cope with it if you are an outgoing people-loving person.”

Life was also improved by a contraption known as the “possum”, which allowed Robin to control the television, turn the pages of his newspaper and speak on the telephone just by turning his head.

He was a guinea pig for the device being developed by Stoke Mandeville Hospital UK and which would later being used by the likes of Professor Stephen Hawking.


Diana said: “It allowed him to use the telephone. To begin with he had to go through the exchange and he had this slightly strange voice.

“One operator was heard to say to another, ‘I’ve got some kind of Dalek on the line’.”


The couple were also acutely aware that they were lucky to have the funds for good care, and so they raised money to help others get hold of the respirator wheelchairs.




Professor Stephen Hawking.


Robin would also test a device that allowed him to speak on the phone which would later be used by the likes of Stephen Hawking They also set up a charity to fund holidays, and became advocates for the rights of the disabled, travelling across Europe encouraging other doctors to set their patients free.

Diana said: “We were lucky we had just enough money to survive. There were lots of people like Robin languishing in hospital.

“It was a question of raising enough money so Teddy could make enough chairs for people who needed them. Robin loved projects.

“It was important for him to be occupied. It was also important to change attitudes.”





The couple's son Jonathan, who made the Bridget Jones films, produced the film about his parents Their work has gone unheralded until now and even their son Jonathan, now 58, did not realise their full impact on the world until he made the movie.


He said: “Though I’d obviously lived through all of that, I hadn’t realised quite the trail-blazing nature of my parents’ lives.”

Diana is delighted that society now sees disabled people differently, especially thanks to events such as the Paralympics.

But she said: “Attitudes are a lot better. Although, I am told the ‘Does he take sugar? syndrome’ does still exist.

“We got a lot of that with Robin in the beginning. It made me very cross.

“I would say, ‘Well, he’s here you can ask him yourself.’”




Rex Features

(L-R) Director Andy Serkis, Diana Cavendish, Jonathan Cavendish, Claire Foy and Andrew Garfield at the Breathe BAFTA screening Claire Foy, 33, admits she cries every time she sees Breathe — but Diana herself is, true to form, tougher.


She said: “The first time I saw it, I didn’t know how to cope with it, so I decided to adopt a very detached attitude.

“It wasn’t difficult to watch, not even when he started bleeding from the throat, because I lived all that.”

That bleeding had been caused by years of being hooked up to a machine, and when these agonising episodes became more frequent, Robin decided that he really could not fight any more.




Getty.

Actress Clair Foy says she cries every time she watches Breathe


In August 1994, aged 64, a friend helped him end his life — at home.
More than two decades on, Diana still misses him dearly.


She said: “It was lucky Robin was still alive when my son married my very lovely daughter-in-law.

"But he did not live to see his triplet grandchildren, who are now 21.

“I do keep thinking what Robin would think of the film. I am sure he would be very proud of Jonathan.”

  • Breathe opens in cinemas on Friday 27 October 2017
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