A report on the process by which a man losing his voice as a result of motor neurone disease may reclaim it. And the efforts to help the red squirrel population.
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This week, we meet a man with motor neurone disease, who
is trying to preserve his voice for the future.
And find out how to help red squirrels prosper.
Welcome to Inside Out. I'm Paul Hudson.
Tonight, we'll meet Jason, who has motor neurone disease.
Find out how voice donors will help him speak with his own voice,
even when he is no longer able to talk.
I just don't want to be a programmed voice on a computer.
Also tonight, how putting grey squirrels on the pill
And later in the programme, the engineering company which helped
build everything from the Taj Mahal to the Sopwith Camel.
This was a time when Britain were engineers to the world.
Now, Jason Liversidge has motor neurone disease,
and it affects every aspect of his life, and he will
But a clinic in Scotland is using voice donors to try to help
create a voice for him, and the idea is that rather than him
sounding like a robot, his new computerised voice
will sound as close to him as possible, together
Three years ago, Jason Liversidge was diagnosed
In that time, it has caused his muscles to waste and to weaken.
Lily, what would you like? Broccoli!
Are you having broccoli for breakfast?
Some mornings can be quite chaotic, and because Jason obviously needs
help with everything, unfortunately, he has to wait till
last, because I've got to get up and get the girls ready and make
sure they're ready for school. It's better when the carer's here.
I try my hardest not to be rough with him,
but I have been known to drag him around a bit.
Being cared for is something Jason's had to get used to,
Each week can bring a new difficulty.
I mean, the whole thing is frustrating, but probably one
I think sometimes, Jason would rather struggle than ask
anybody to help him, because for him, it's
obviously about his pride and his dignity and,
you know, sometimes I know he's struggling, but I won't attempt
to help him until he asks me, because he doesn't always
Very early on, it was, Jason couldn't use his hands,
so he would find things like doing buttons incredibly difficult.
He then lost the ability to dress himself, and then he started
Then he was not able to walk unaided, and it is that constant
He is not even able to pick the girls up and give them a cuddle.
There are some things Jason has had to accept he may never do again.
And the disease means he will eventually be
There are no greater heights to aspire to them the stars.
There are no greater heights to aspire to than the stars.
Professor Stephen Hawking is perhaps the most famous sufferer
I think you will agree with me that it is absolutely fantastic.
This is Jason, giving a speech at his sister's wedding.
For those of you who aren't familiar, our father
passed away quite some time ago, and...
Jason will also have a computerised voice, but he wants
It has been left to me to give her away, I'd like to say
So when you talk, out of the computer, it will
There's a research clinic in Edinburgh that can help.
The Anne Rowling Clinic was set up by Harry Potter author JK
The Anne Rowling Clinic was set up by Harry Potter author
JK Rowling after her mother had multiple sclerosis.
It specialises in degenerative diseases.
It has a project trying to create personal synthetic voices.
Your voice is as identifiable to other people as your face is.
You know, and is very unique to you, so being able to preserve
that, I think, is very important for people.
There are already other personalised systems,
but they need to record the patient's voice
This University of Edinburgh project is different.
When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act
Previously, methods have needed to take maybe 8-10 hours of speech,
which is an awful lot for anybody, let alone if you have a condition
where you tire quite easily, or speech is starting to become
a problem, or what we can do is ill voices using as little as about 20
to become a problem, but what we can do is build voices
using as little as about 20 minutes' worth of speech.
And they aim to repair the flaws in a patient's voice using donors.
When Jason came to record his voice, it was still very clear,
you could still understand everything he was saying,
but you could hear it was starting to become a bit more effortful,
perhaps a little bit more slurred sounding,
so it may not sound exactly how he used to sound, and that's
where we would use more of those donor voices.
And one of the first volunteers is his best friend, Phil.
Jason and I went to school together from being, oh,
From being so active, skiing, driving, to go from that
lifestyle to this one, I just can't imagine.
So, how does he feel about donating his voice?
We're from the same area, we got a similar accident,
We're from the same area, we got a similar accent,
so yeah, it was just, of course I'm going to do it.
Is there anything in your head sort of strange about the idea
of your voice getting blended with Jason's?
I think, because it's blended, it's less of a problem.
I think if it was my voice and I was to ring him and speak
to me on the other end of the phone, then maybe that would be
So, when that writing turns red, if you can read it out for me,
Yeah. Here we go.
Ask her to bring these things with her from the store.
Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese,
and maybe a snack for her brother Bob.
The sentences do seem a bit strange, but they've been specially selected
so that we can capture all those speech sounds that we need
when we create this synthetic voice, so rather than trying to record
every single word in the dictionary, we capture all those sounds
so that we can use them in any other word in which they occur.
OK. Thank you.
Right, are you going to get in the van?
Getting all the donors will take months.
In the meantime, Jason and Liz work hard to keep
Jason is still able to drive and adapted vehicle,
Jason is still able to drive an adapted vehicle, and it means
a lot to him to do normal dad things, like take
It's really important for us that we try to get out
and about with the girls and make as many memories as possible.
We are trying to compile lots of video and photographs we've
taken of Jason and the girls together, so later on,
when Jason's no longer here, the girls will have
something to look back upon, something to remember him by.
It has been more than a year since Jason recorded his voice.
21 men from Yorkshire have become donors and read out
Now, Jason is back in Edinburgh to hear his blended and synthesised
voice for the first time. But will it sound like him?
Using eye movements, Jason selects letters
on his computer to type out what he wants to say.
It can be slow, but predictive text helps.
"This is the first time I have heard my new voice."
That's pretty good. Yeah, that is, yeah.
I would definitely recognise it as Jason.
Today is my birthday and we are staying at Edinburgh
tonight with no kids. Woo-hoo!
It doesn't have the same excitement, I don't think!
It may not be able to perfectly express emotion, but this melting
pot of his own and all the donor voices has given
"This is the first time I have heard my new voice."
And don't forget, if you've got any views on tonight's programme,
or you've got a story you think we might like to cover,
you can get in touch on Facebook or on Twitter.
The engineers to the world with a hand in everything
from the Taj Mahal to the Sopwith Camel.
Now, grey squirrels might look cute, and many of us, the only
Now, grey squirrels might look cute, and to many of us, the only
But they are considered a pest, and the only way to keep
Keeley Donovan has been finding out whether contraception is a more
humane weapon in the fight against the greys and to
But under the leafy canopy, deadly aliens are on the loose.
And the villain here, causing millions of pounds of damage,
and upsetting forest ecosystems, is an innocent looking
little woodland creature, the grey squirrel.
The grey squirrels very clever man will -- mammal, and it is basically
outsmarted man for decades. If we get one grey squirrel with
out our native reds. If we get one grey squirrel with
squirrel pox into this area, we can lose our entire population here.
Chemical controls, including contraceptives, have so far failed.
Culling remains the only viable method of keeping numbers down.
The chaps are out most mornings trying to shoot them.
But this could all be about to change.
Victorian aristocrats get the blame for introducing grey
bringing them in from America and releasing them into parks.
The animals adapted rather too well, and numbers swelled.
There are now around three million of them in the UK,
One of their first crimes was to squeeze out Britain's
There are now only about 15,000 left in England,
But there is one small corner of the Yorkshire Dales where red
Simon, this is a wonderful spot, isn't it?
Yeah, it's great. We are very lucky to have them here in this part of
Yorkshire, and people still don't realise that there are Red Square
roles in Yorkshire. Seeing this close is just
incredible, isn't it? Yes, they are very bold. They start
off very shy, but they soon work out this is their home, they are the
boss, and they will do anything they want. That is greedy! You have a
ready got one in there! If this was ever an icon of British wildlife,
this is it. If you ask people to draw a squirrel, this is usually
what they draw, despite that most people haven't seen one.
I can't believe how close we can get!
Simon has been photographing the squirrels for years. They are just
inspiring tins of our British wildlife.
Unfortunately, we need to carry out this work to reduce the number of
grey squirrels. That involves killing any grey
squirrel that comes near. If the Wensleydale reds came
in contact with a grey, they could pick up the fatal
squirrel pox virus. We knew that there were reds Upper
Dale, and we only seeing greys coming through here. We thought, if
we can control the greys, at least we are protecting those reds there.
Eventually, we controlled the greys, and we left it squirrel free for a
while, and then the reds started to come down.
You have seen them, you have filmed them. They are to Lily wonderful
creatures, but apart from anything else, they are native. And I think
it is really important to protect and encourage as many of our native
healthy ecosystem, to live in the healthy ecosystem, to live in the
woods, and balance the whole population.
The grey squirrel is officially an alien invasive species.
It is legal to kill them in a humane way.
It's against the law to release one into the wild.
Some people argue that it's unrealistic to expect reds
So why not let reds and greys co-exist?
All animals are welcome at Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary,
They have special permission to take in grey squirrels.
We are licensed to keep and release them here, because we are nowhere
near red squirrels, and we have visits from Natural England, and
they are very happy with our facilities. We have your basic
regulations. You think grey squirrels get a bad
rap. Why is that? Out of all the tarmac killed, 53% of
those are killed on roads, and 2% by pox. Blaming beat grey swirls alone
for the red squirrels' decline, it is nothing in comparison to human
activity. I don't think killing greys is the answer.
There are two issues here ? it's not just the threat to reds,
grey squirrels are attacking our native woodland.
Not like this with chainsaws, but by chipping away at tree bark.
A nightmare for places like the Yorkshire Arboretum,
home to a priceless collection of tree species.
How much of a problem are squirrels here?
They are a terrible nuisance. They do some damage to the collection, to
the trees all round. And really they cause a lot of problems, killing
things, or just simply damaging them.
What exactly do they do? This is a classic example, how they
have stripped the bark in this section and indeed, up and down the
tree. This really now is a completely wrecked tree.
So the tree is missing its bark. It is not going to get its food and
drink? Absolutely. And how common is this
kind of damage in the Arboretum? Very frequent. These are invasive
species. There is a sycamore here, there are others over here which are
just wrecked. This sort of damages everywhere.
Squirrels have been wreaking woodland having fears.
In the 1950s, a despairing government organised a mass
Farmers were paid a shilling a tail to rid the countryside
The squirrels responded by breeding in bigger numbers.
They now cause an estimated ?17 million a year of damage,
and are threatening the future of our woodland.
We will have major changes in the UK in terms of our landscape if we do
not control grey squirrels. The damage that they are doing to trees
is immense. At the moment, landowners get grants
to keep squirrel numbers down. Most mornings, this time of year,
the chaps are out checking the traps or shooting.
It must be difficult for somebody who loves nature to have to kill a
species? Of course it is. We would prefer not
to. Some other form of control would be fantastic.
For years, scientists have been trying to perfect a less brutal way
of controlling the grey squirrel population without killing
A team at Sheffield University spent most of the 1990s working
We are reasonably optimistic and confident at the moment.
Once outside of the lab, it worked well on those
squirrels that picked up the contraceptive-laced nuts.
Unfortunately, half of them didn't take the bait,
Bearing in mind that it is very expensive now to do shooting and
trapping, we're talking about getting on for ?60 a squirrel, we
have to find some sort of game changer.
So they have charged another set of scientists,
at the government lab in North Yorkshire, to try again.
And they think they may this time have cracked a way of getting
It would be a paste. It would go in a dispenser, and the beauty is that
the grey squirrel would have to eat it, actually at the face, at the
dispenser. So because it is in this kind of
liquid form, they must eat it straightaway?
Exactly. Within the bay, we would make sure we have a UV marker, so
when the squirrel feeds on this, the market would get onto its whiskers,
and at the grey squirrel goes back into the woodland, we can actually
see where it is, and actually just how effective we have been with this
dispensing device. They hope these contraceptive
dispensers could be dotted through our woodlands
within five years. Just looking forward, how could this
potentially change the squirrel populations?
I think it could be massive. The modelling we have done shows that we
could actually reduce the breeding population of grey squirrels by
about 70%. What with that then do to the reds?
Well, what would happen is, actually, reds are very good at
coming into grey squirrel areas, and you would see a whole new range of
reds moving south into Yorkshire, and that is enormously exciting.
Here is a quiz question for you. What is the connection between the
Taj Mahal, the Ealing film studios, Grimsby fishing trawlers, and the
Sopwith Camel? Well, they are all powered by engines built by Rustons
and Horby, engineer to the world, a strike here in Lincoln. -- Rustons
and Hornby. A few years ago, a photographer
wandered into an old factory I was the last company full-time
photographer. We were in here to do a quick shoot. We walked into this
room and kind of stopped. When you realise what you have got here,
there were tracking and tracking and boxes and boxes of glass slides,
glass negatives. Cine films. The whole thing was just an Aladdin's
cave. He had come across one of the most
complete records of British industrial history, the archives of
engineering firm Ruston and Hornby. Behind me, this is their factory,
but at one time, this whole area was covered in engineering firms.
This is an old catalogue, about 1900. And it shows the variety, at
your Mendis variety of stuff they made.
Farmer's son Joseph Ruston started this empire by making
So maybe it's appropriate that I'm visiting a garden shed to learn
You wouldn't necessarily think of a big engineering plant coming from
Lincoln. Lincoln is thought by most people
who don't know it as an agricultural town. Being an agricultural town,
they needed agricultural implements. But then, the age of steam came. The
Industrial Revolution. This was a time when Britain were engineers to
the world. Ruston had both an eye for business
and for new inventions. Like steam powered diggers,
sold to the builders At that time, all can now is on
railways were adored by manual Irish Labour, -- all canals, and there
were so much work going on, that the price of their labour had
skyrocketed. They put in an order for 71 Ruston nappies, very good for
Ruston. -- navvies. You can chart the history of the
products they have developed over the last century and a half.
Certainly, the diesel engine, in conjunction with two three from
and oil engine invented by Herbert and oil engine invented by Herbert
Stuart Ackroyd was first made in Grantham by Richard Hornsby. History
shows that Rudolf diesel proved better at filing patents, but in its
day, the Hornsby- Ackroyd engine was used the world over, including in
the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal, and the generator that
powered Marconi's first transatlantic wireless signal.
I think engineers by nature horde stuff, because they think that they
need to refer back to it, and of course, that is the beauty about the
archive. Yes, the archive, that stature
pictures and documents, telling Roston's history.
Photographer Phil had told friends at the University about the hoard
Coincidentally, Siemens were looking for a new home
But few places could take such a mass of material.
One of our key goals was to try and keep them intact, with the help of
Professor David slide from the University. We put together a plan
to try to keep them together. That plan was to place the whole lot
in the Lincolnshire Archive, and open it up to the public,
putting it online. We saw it on site down at First
Road, and had a slight panic! I am trained as a historian and an
activist, so this is quite alien to me. We needed help, both of
knowledge and of just hands doing a physical scanning.
It was time to call in the engineers ? volunteers with Ruston knowledge,
handy when identifying what was in all the boxes.
We would just collaborate between each other, and bounced ideas about,
and we have virtually seen everything from the early days of
the 1850s right up to modern day gas turbines.
I actually found a photograph of me in about 1970!
So I am actually in the archives! So I am actually in the archives!
It is Lincoln's history, and in no way should be destroyed or lost or
forgotten about. That history includes a few
missed opportunities, That man, Roberts, he was the first
engineer who was the brains behind the development of the engine, and
the track vehicles. There was a special stretch and Skegness beach
that was the equivalent of Daytona Sands in America, where they had
these things go through their trials.
The caterpillar is a huge American company now. -- caterpillar is.
Yes, because two three's failed to convince the army and they failed to
convince the farmers that the Americans -- but the Americans were
wiser. They paid ?4000 for the patents, and
a few years later, when World War I came about, we were paying them.
Definitely the one got away. Definitely.
At the end of World War I, the companies merged.
Hornsby's had an empty order book. But Rustons were flying high.
They'd spent the war making aeroplanes.
This factory behind me was where they built nearly
For the next 50 years, engines of every size and shape left
And the company kept up Joseph Ruston's knack
'In the precise language of the engineer, it's a gas turbine.
One of the marvels of the century marbles.
Ruston's wanted a part of the new jet technology developed
These then technical director was then sent to a -- to recruit the top
man to develop the gas turbine. Today, we are one of the major
industrial gas turbine manufacturers, where our products
are used on oil pipelines, offshore, so lots of the North Sea equipment,
and the same in the Middle East. The online archive's growing ?
they're uploading 2,000 images And that's only a fraction of what's
going to be made available. I hope people use of research, of
course. There are a lot of people who are still interested in the old
diesel engines. When you start reading into it and going through
stuff, it really is. There's a thriving community
of people restoring Not surprisingly, Ray Hooley
has been involved in One of his longest term projects
began in the late '70s, hauling a 1904 steam navvy out
of a flooded quarry. It took me two years
to assemble divers. Machinery, cranes, and so on, to
dismantle this machine underwater and then lift it out in pieces,
bring it back to Lincoln, and get it restored.
40 years and two museums later, the navvy is back in action at
In 1966, in a world of corporate takeovers,
Nowadays, you only see those names on old restored engines.
But the business is still here in Lincoln.
Several changes of owner later, as Siemens, it's still the city's
largest private employer, they're still making gas turbines,
and they're working with the University to provide
Something to be proud of. Lincoln always was an engineering
city, so it is something to keep it for future generations, I believe.
It is working. Keep it working. I think it is important that people
know it not just as Siemens, but how it started. It is our history, isn't
it? Our heritage. For Lincoln and for England.
APPLAUSE That is all from us here in Lincoln.
Make sure you join us next week. We will reveal how one leading
supermarket's special offers and what they seem, discovering
historical architectural gems in the Yorkshire waltz, and telling you how
to find gold in Scunthorpe.
Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire presented by Paul Hudson.
We meet Jason Liversidge who knows that he will soon lose his voice because of the progression of motor neurone disease. A clinic in Scotland is now using donor voices to try to produce a computerised voice which will sound just like his own. Also, we look at efforts to help the red squirrel population by controlling the number of greys. And we delve into an amazing archive of the Lincolnshire company who were engineers to the world.