23/01/2017 Inside Out East Midlands


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23/01/2017

The parents who claim the adoption of their two children was an appalling miscarriage of justice. Mike Dilger investigates the implications of Brexit for East Midlands wildlife.


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Hello and welcome to Wollaton Park in Nottingham.

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Tonight, the shadowy world of the family courts and the parents

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who are speaking out.

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This couple say the adoption of their two children was

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an appalling miscarriage of justice.

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The best way I can try and explain it is using the phrase of

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a living bereavement.

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There is no grave to mourn at because they are alive,

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they are out there somewhere.

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Also tonight, what will Brexit mean for our wildlife?

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Mike Dilger has been investigating.

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Now that we are responsible for our own environmental policy,

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if we don't get it right, it could be bad news for nature.

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And remembering the Guinea Pig Club.

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I hit the ground rather violently and this was an inferno.

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The stories that matter closer to home.

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I'm Lukwesa Burak and this is Inside Out for the East Midlands.

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First tonight, the extraordinary story of a Derbyshire couple

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who fought eight long years to have their adopted

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children returned to them.

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As journalists, we struggle to report on stories like this

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because family court hearings are held in private and,

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to protect children, much of what takes place

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can't be published.

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But this particular case could have much wider implications.

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The couple have given their first UK television

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interview to Sarah Sturdey.

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On a Sunday afternoon in September 2008, Sue and Peter,

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not their real names, were at home in Derbyshire.

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Life for their family was about to change forever.

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We are not naming the couple to protect the children.

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My youngest was nine months old and I was sitting,

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giving my youngest a very gentle baby massage when I noticed this

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funny swelling on his head.

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He wasn't distressed, he allowed me to touch it.

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Sue and Peter took their son to Nottingham's A

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Sue says after a scan they were told there was a skull fracture and signs

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of previous bleeding on the brain.

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We were in absolute shock.

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Disbelief.

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They ask me, do you know what happened?

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They asked me a couple of times and each time I said no.

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None of this...it seemed so surreal.

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You are in a total daze.

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We got the distinct impression that there was quite a bit

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of confusion as to what was going on, whether there was

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or wasn't any fractures.

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A month later at a children's centre, the couple had

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to say goodbye to their two young sons, aged 10 months and three.

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They were being taken into care by Derbyshire County Council

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while their future was decided by the family courts.

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The day we originally lost the boys on 31st October 2008

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was the worst day of my life.

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That's when my life ended.

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To hear your child screaming, daddy, please save me,

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and knowing there is nothing at all you can do,

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it just kills you.

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You just stop living because you are ripped apart.

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How do you say goodbye to your kids and try to explain to them?

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That day is burned into our memories.

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That haunts us today because the look on their faces

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when they were taken away, that is the hardest thing ever.

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Civil family court hearings are held behind closed doors.

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It's rare for cases to be heard in public.

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In December 2008, the couple were told there was no

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criminal case to answer.

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A year later, a family court hearing was held to consider the facts.

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We can say the boys were judged to be at risk.

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They were never returned to their parents.

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Sue refused to give up.

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She researched her legal rights and asked for

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hospital medical records.

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These documents were sent to her.

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These are hospital clinical reports to diagnose the swollen skull.

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I was in shock.

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Absolute shock.

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I couldn't believe what I was actually reading.

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The document states very clearly that there is no skull fracture

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and in the skeletal survey, it says it's more likely

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a fissure than a fracture.

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And this hadn't been disclosed to us.

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A fissure being a natural variant, more like a deep groove,

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than a skull fracture.

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This was rather distressing to read.

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The hospital confirmed to us the medical records

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were passed to the Council.

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So why hadn't Sue been told about potentially

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crucial medical evidence?

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She dispensed with her lawyer and tried to navigate the legal

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system herself but the adoption eventually went ahead.

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200 miles away in Salisbury, Sue has found a new solicitor

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to take on her case.

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He's had success with a high-profile miscarriage of justice.

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Bill Bache represented Angela Cannings, whose wrongful

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conviction for murdering two of her babies was

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eventually overturned.

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The cause of the deaths could have been genetic.

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He also believes this case raises serious questions.

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The parents may well have suffered the most appalling injustice.

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If the anomalies that were identified were in fact

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naturally occurring, then they have had their children

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taken away from them for absolutely no good reason whatsoever.

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John Hemming is a former Birmingham MP who campaigns

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about controversial adoptions.

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In 2013, using parliamentary protection, he questioned why

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the parents weren't told about the naturally

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occurring fissure.

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There was a court order on October the 30th 2008 which said

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all evidence should be provided to the parents.

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This did not happen.

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Derbyshire County Council declined to comment but did obtain approval

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from the judge for court medical reports and the court judgements

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to be released to us but we're not allowed to tell you the contents.

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And there's another extraordinary twist.

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Two years ago, Sue was diagnosed with a genetic inheritable condition

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affecting her body's joints.

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It's called Ehlers-Danlos Sundrome.

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It explains a lifetime of health problems.

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I've got various bolts and nuts and screws holding me together,

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I've got a cage that's surrounding my spine

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and it holds me up.

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Having received the Ehlers-Danlos diagnosis, this can easily now

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explain my son's condition when presented to the hospital.

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If a parent suffers it, then it may well be that children

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will also inherit it and I believe there are a lot of cases where this

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connection might be very important indeed to the resolution of what has

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actually happened to these children.

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The charity Ehlers-Danlos Support UK told us it has received calls

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from a dozen families diagnosed with EDS facing child

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protection proceedings.

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The charity says there's a lack of understanding

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about the condition.

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Armed with Sue's new medical diagnosis, Bill Bache says

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in an unprecedented move he is now seeking a new review of the court

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hearing which considered the facts of the case seven years ago.

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Every year, I put a little message in a bottle for each boy,

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for each year of their birth, that when they get to the age of 21,

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they can see our dreams and our wishes for them.

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The separation is hard and the best way I can actually try and explain

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it is using the phrase of a living bereavement.

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There is no grave to mourn it because they are alive,

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they are out there somewhere.

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One of the hardest things is being around children

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because it's a constant reminder of what you're missing,

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what they could be doing, what do they look like now,

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could they be enjoying things.

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Since the original case, recent family court guidelines

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encourage the publication of some judgements so the courts

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are more accountable.

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In the short-term, I can't see anything

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happening about the adoption but in the shorter term I believe

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that it may well be possible to revisit the findings in a way

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that I hope would reflect well on them.

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This has been an extremely hard, long eight years.

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It has had an impact on our health.

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I will never ever, ever, ever give up on my children.

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We don't know what the outcome is going to be but I have to try.

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And of course we will be keeping an eye on how the case goes.

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Well, as we prepare to leave the EU, many people will be asking questions

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such as, is my job safe, will the cost of food be going up,

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and what on earth is going to happen to all our Polish plumbers.

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Wildlife broadcaster Mike Dilger has questions of his own.

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He's been exploring how the UK's departure from the European Union

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could have big implications for the environment

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and protected wildlife.

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We've all heard the EU myths.

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Bananas shouldn't be bendy, children banned from blowing up

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balloons and let's not even talk about what they want to do

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with our vacuum cleaners.

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There have been plenty of EU rules and regulations that have

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ruffled our feathers over the years and one of them includes

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a furry, flying mammal.

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From the headlines, British bats may appear to be

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the bane of every builder, holding up planning and causing

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costly delays, but there's a very good reason why these little

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creatures receive protection under the EU.

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For decades, their numbers plummeted right across Europe and something

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had to be done to reverse this depressing decline.

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I'm joining Derbyshire Wildlife Trust as they carry out

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an important survey.

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Yes, we have.

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It's a bat.

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And it doesn't take us long to find what we're looking for - bats.

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A soprano pipistrelle - one of the smallest species in Europe.

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We found a bat incredibly quickly and perhaps 10 years ago

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we might have struggled because they were struggling

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in the latter half of the 20th century, weren't they?

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Absolutely.

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There's a variety of reasons why bat numbers were decreasing,

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from pesticide use, agricultural practices, changing

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landscapes and the loss of the roosts themselves.

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They were getting it from all sides.

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How has EU legislation helped bat populations in Britain?

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In the UK we have the Wildlife and Countryside Act and that

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just protects the bats.

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The EU legislation itself helps protect the bats,

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the roost and their foraging and commuting grounds.

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So there's no point just protecting the bat if where it lives

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and where it feeds is not protected at all.

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Exactly.

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So uncertain times ahead for bats?

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Definitely.

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So evidence suggests legislation really has helped.

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Of the 16 bat species surveyed by the European Environment Agency

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across nine countries, results show that bat

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numbers have recovered.

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In fact, up by a healthy 40% since the 1990s.

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And it's not only flying mammals which get special treatment.

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Most of the UK's wildlife and environmental legislation

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is based around EU directives.

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And post-Brexit, there's uncertainty as to how these will be replaced.

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It's got Rutland farmer and wildlife enthusiasts

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Andrew Brown very worried.

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Andrew, we're standing in the middle of one of your wader scrapes

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which is full of water and wading in the winter and breeding

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birds in the summer.

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We've spotted some wildlife already.

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That just goes to show what great little islands

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of wildlife these are.

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We've got a little frog, a common frog.

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Well spotted.

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These little frog-friendly habitats are all because of money

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from Europe, from EU subsidies?

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Absolutely.

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I've taken 23 hectares out of production and I've put

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in a woodland, three hectares, and I have put in these scrapes.

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Are you worried about the future, about Brexit

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and where things are going?

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Absolutely.

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I think it could be a big disaster for wildlife.

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I have been in this scheme for six years and it

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comes to an end in 2020.

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I'm concerned that if I can't get into the next scheme,

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whatever that may be, because we don't know yet,

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I may have to undo all this good work that has been done

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because I can't afford to do it without being paid.

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It's going to be a big problem for the countryside.

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Currently farmers receive around ?3 billion a year from Brussels.

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The lion's share goes towards food production, with ?600 million

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on environmental stewardship.

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But could Brexit allow us to reset all the rules?

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The National Trust manages around 1,000 square miles of land.

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That's roughly the size of Derbyshire.

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And the Trust says that Brexit offers new opportunities

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for farming and for wildlife.

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I've come to Cork Abbey to meet the Rural Enterprise

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Director to find out more.

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We have to hope that we will get at least as much

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for the environment.

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What we would like to see is it growing.

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We think that is where public money ought to be focusing.

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All the public benefits come from a vibrant countryside.

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We want water protected, we want our habitats in good shape

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and we want our wildlife to thrive.

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We really are at a crossroads though.

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It could go either way.

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It could.

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It's a transition period.

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Everything to play for over the next six months, 18 months.

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Quite a difficult road, quite a lot of debates to be

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had over that period.

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It's up to us who really care about the countryside

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to make our voice heard and stand up for things we believe in.

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So what happens now?

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And how do we untangle 40 years of environmental legislation?

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Pauline Latham, MP for Mid Derbyshire, backed Brexit.

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I don't think people need to be too worried because I do believe

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what we want to do as a government is strengthen the legislation.

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We want to make it better.

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Many of the laws Europe brought to us are enshrined in British law

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so I don't think that is going to be too big a problem.

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But it doesn't mean to say people shouldn't think about it.

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They should be lobbying their MPs, the NFU, Wildlife Trust,

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all those organisations.

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They need to be listening to their members and telling

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government what they want to make life better for them,

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for their members and for the wildlife in this country.

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You're saying it's a tremendous opportunity.

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It can be.

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And I think we could have this opportunity to reassess what we need

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to do, how we can make life better for everybody and the wildlife.

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I'm ending the day just outside Chesterfield.

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Derbyshire Wildlife Trust wanted to meet me here for a good reason.

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This is the River Rother in North Derbyshire and back

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in the 1970s it was considered one of the most contaminated rivers

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in the entire country.

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Coking plants, sewage works and manufacturing chemicals

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all added to this toxic soup, making it unable to sustain life.

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But how things have changed.

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Species like minnow, barbel and even crayfish can

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all be found here now.

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Tim, you think that EU legislation is responsible

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for the health of the River Rother as it stands today?

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Absolutely.

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This used to be one of the filthiest rivers in Europe, filled with sewage

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and chemicals from industry.

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There's no question that EU legislation has massively helped

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to improve the quality of the river, with all the amazing wildlife

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we have got back now.

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Moving forward outside of the EU, are you optimistic about the future?

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Will they keep the laws?

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The Wildlife Trust, we are concerned, and the key thing

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is, there's got to be absolutely no backsliding.

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We don't want to see a decrease in water quality,

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we want more wildlife back so people can enjoy the amazing

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wildlife of our rivers.

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It's absolutely key.

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David Cameron claimed that 40% of our laws were shaped by Brussels

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while Nigel Farage maintained it was more like 75%.

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Whatever the figure, it's clear that things are going to change

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and now that we are responsible for our own environmental policy,

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if we don't get it right, it could be bad news for nature.

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Well, our final story tonight comes from Leicestershire,

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where a veteran airman from Burton Lazars is on one final

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mission, to build a memorial for airmen severely burned

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during World War II.

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Victoria Hicks has been following Sandy Saunders' quest

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to ensure the legacy of the Guinea Pig Club

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is never forgotten.

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The 27th of September 1945 was a very important day in my life.

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By the end of the day, my life would have been totally changed.

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I hit the ground rather violently and this was an inferno.

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I undid the straps, the buckle, climbed over the starboard side

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of the aircraft and fell to the ground and then I was

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unconscious and woke up in hospital.

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It was just a horrible feeling.

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A feeling of terror.

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You feel as if you're just going to die now.

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Where are you?

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I can't see.

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I'm up there.

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You can tell from my hat.

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It looks like Rommel.

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Sandy Saunders was 22, a trainee glider pilot

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on a navigation exercise in Warwickshire when the plane's

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engine stalled and it crashed.

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I was covered with aviation fuel and I was on fire.

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I got horrid burns up my entire legs and my hands and my face.

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He suffered 40% burns and in 1947 was sent to a pioneering plastic

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surgeon based in West Sussex.

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I was referred to Archibald McIndoe in East Grinstead and he did

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a further 14 operations, which gave me the face I've got now.

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McIndoe had been appointed by the RAF to treat

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badly burned aircrew.

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The Battle of Britain led to rising numbers of young pilots

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with life changing injuries.

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Most were fighter pilots.

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By the end of the War, the majority were from bomber command.

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McIndoe's patients became known as his "guinea pigs"

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because of the experimental plastic surgery they had.

0:22:240:22:28

He encouraged them to form the so-called Guinea Pig

0:22:280:22:30

Club, a social club.

0:22:300:22:32

By the end of the war it had 649 members.

0:22:320:22:36

75 years after the Guinea Pig Club was formed, Sandy feels it's time

0:22:470:22:51

the severely burned airmen should be given a permanent tribute.

0:22:510:22:55

With his wife Maggie, they've come to see it taking shape

0:22:550:22:59

at Graeme Mitcheson's workshop in Leicestershire.

0:22:590:23:02

You've got the drama.

0:23:020:23:04

Yes, we've got quite sharp flames here and thinning out to a more

0:23:040:23:08

puffy smoke at the top.

0:23:080:23:12

It just catching that drama of how a lot of the injuries were obtained.

0:23:120:23:17

I commissioned this memorial because if I hadn't done

0:23:220:23:26

so, nobody else would.

0:23:260:23:30

'At East Grinstead, newly knighted Sir Archibald McIndoe,

0:23:300:23:34

meets members 'of the Guinea Pig Club.

0:23:340:23:37

'His magic hands have given new limbs and new faces 'to burned

0:23:370:23:44

and mutilated airmen.

0:23:440:23:46

During World War II,

0:23:460:23:47

McIndoe was based at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East

0:23:470:23:50

Grinstead.

0:23:500:24:00

It's still a leading centre for the treatment of burns injuries.

0:24:020:24:05

Welcome, gentlemen.

0:24:050:24:06

How lovely to see you at the Queen Vic.

0:24:060:24:08

Good to see you again.

0:24:080:24:09

We have a box here of McIndoe's original instruments that have just

0:24:090:24:12

come from the museum and I thought we'd have a look at what is similar

0:24:120:24:16

and what is different to what I use on a daily basis.

0:24:160:24:19

There's a lot of these I recognise.

0:24:190:24:20

Here's a standard pair of McIndoe's forceps.

0:24:200:24:22

We certainly still use those today.

0:24:220:24:25

It wasn't just the design of McIndoe's instruments that

0:24:250:24:27

were important but also his belief in treating the physical and mental

0:24:270:24:30

scars of his patients.

0:24:300:24:32

He was very much groundbreaking, the idea that the whole patient

0:24:320:24:36

is really important.

0:24:360:24:38

That's now very much the mantra of both burn care

0:24:380:24:41

and the wider NHS now, that the patient should

0:24:410:24:44

be in the centre.

0:24:440:24:46

He was obviously the world's best plastic surgeon.

0:24:480:24:51

You were one of his patients and you were going to recover.

0:24:510:24:56

I think this was the fundamental thing - faith in McIndoe.

0:24:560:25:01

Like Sandy, Roger Chaplin has also been treated at East Grinstead.

0:25:040:25:08

After crashing his private plane, he's had 70 operations so far.

0:25:080:25:13

The Guinea Pig story gives him hope.

0:25:130:25:16

It is quite an inspiration because when you've had a serious

0:25:160:25:21

burn, you're dealing with the aftermath of the burn,

0:25:210:25:23

it's very easy to get into a very low situation psychologically.

0:25:230:25:30

To see that they can come through that particular low and come

0:25:300:25:35

out on the other side and go on to manage to have a decent

0:25:350:25:39

and fulfilling life afterwards, it's very important and very uplifting.

0:25:390:25:43

Sandy's mission to have a memorial is nearing completion.

0:25:460:25:50

He's managed to raise ?20,000 to pay for it.

0:25:500:25:53

The edge traces the profile of McIndoe's face.

0:25:530:25:58

And here's McIndoe.

0:25:580:26:00

His hands touched me and now I'm touching him.

0:26:000:26:05

Doesn't half bring back memories.

0:26:050:26:07

The day of the unveiling at the National Memorial

0:26:150:26:17

Arboretum in Staffordshire.

0:26:170:26:19

The Duke of Edinburgh became president of the Guinea Pig Club

0:26:190:26:23

on McIndoe's death.

0:26:230:26:25

He's here to pay his respects alongside some of the last surviving

0:26:250:26:28

Guinea Pig Club members.

0:26:280:26:30

It's very appropriate, I think.

0:26:370:26:40

The bottom bit, an aircraft going down in flames.

0:26:400:26:44

I'm only a lightly toasted one.

0:26:440:26:48

It's overwhelming really.

0:26:480:26:50

I'm very grateful to be able to live to see it unveiled.

0:26:500:26:56

I'm glad I took the initiative.

0:26:560:27:00

McIndoe inspired Sandy to train as a GP after the War.

0:27:020:27:07

He practised in Nottingham for 40 years.

0:27:070:27:10

It looks the same...

0:27:100:27:12

Exactly the same as the one I last flew.

0:27:120:27:17

Now, at 94, he has terminal cancer, but he has one more chance

0:27:170:27:22

to fly in a Tiger Moth.

0:27:220:27:25

It just brings it all back.

0:27:330:27:36

Yes.

0:27:360:27:38

I wish I were young again.

0:27:380:27:41

Sandy's trecked the Himalayas, sailed the Atlantic

0:27:500:27:53

and skied until he was 82.

0:27:530:27:56

He's led the full and active life McIndoe wanted his

0:27:560:27:59

Guinea Pigs to lead.

0:27:590:28:01

And now his final mission is complete.

0:28:040:28:07

There's a place where the injured airmen will always be remembered.

0:28:070:28:11

And we know that Sandy is watching this so from all

0:28:200:28:23

of us at Inside Out, we would like to wish him well

0:28:230:28:26

and congratulate him on a mission accomplished.

0:28:260:28:29

That's it from us for this week.

0:28:290:28:31

Here's a sneak preview of what's coming up on next week's programme.

0:28:310:28:35

Good boy, Yoyo.

0:28:380:28:40

We're out with the sniffer dogs tracking down the secret

0:28:400:28:43

stashes of illegal tobacco on our high street.

0:28:430:28:46

Wherever I go in the UK, there are always links back to Derby.

0:28:460:28:51

Hello, I'm Riz Lateef with your 90 second update.

0:29:030:29:06

The Government says national security means it won't confirm

0:29:060:29:09

The parents who claim the adoption of their two children was an appalling miscarriage of justice. And Mike Dilger investigates the implications of Brexit for East Midlands wildlife.