Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Visiting the Leckey Factory: A Labor of Love

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The Leckey Factory
We awakened early and had a quick bite of breakfast; some rasher (how the Irish reference bacon),  bangers (which are Irish sausages),  black and white pudding (which is a soft-textured sausage made from the cooked and congealed blood of pigs or cattle. The blood is mixed with fillers like pork, beef, fat, oatmeal, bread, potato or barley to create a familiar sausage constancy).  The white pudding is much the same as the black without the blood.  Irish brown bread, and Boxty which is like an Irish pancake, sometimes the breakfasts would include mushrooms and a steamed tomato.   Chris would often ask the kitchen for cereal, Weetabix or Coco-cereal.   Noah would always get strawberry yogurt.   And Luke - well he was rather attached to the hard boiled eggs and chocolate croissants.   Now doesn't that just sound like a wonderful way to start your morning? 
Our breakfast
Cereal and Morning Goodies

I haven't been able to eat or handle the idea of sausage since my pregnancy with Luke, but surprisingly I adored Irish Bangers, the casings and meat are very soft a bit like the texture of bologna or braunschweiger brands in the States.  I did have a bit of trouble with the black pudding.  I believe in trying everything at least once, sometimes more than once to give things a proper chance.  The smell was a little different than what I am used to.  I can't say it was really all that bad, just something I simply wasn't accustomed to eating.  I would however try it again, so the verdict is really out if it's something I could learn to love or not. 

After we had eaten we arrived in the lobby of the hotel where a taxi took us to Lisburn to the Leckey Factory.  It was maybe a twenty minute drive and I loved passing hillsides full of green and farm houses.  All the taxi drivers were so warm and kind.  They would chat with us the entire way, making sure we were having a delightful time.   You'd see sometimes those making driving mistakes, and each driver wouldn't hold a grudge.  They'd roll down their windows and wish each other good day.  Same thing with drivers in general, they just roll down windows and ask for directions or ask how each other are doing.    The exact opposite of what you'd find here in the US where road rage is rampant and where no one tolerates each other to make an honest driving mistake without being aggressive.  We certainly wouldn't be willing to roll down our windows to chat with each other.  Reminded me literally of those please pass the Grey Poupon Commercials.

Once we arrived at the factory we were greeted by so many employees from Leckey.  They all eagerly awaited our arrival and were truly excited to have us as their guests.   We all put our belongings in a room and joined Mr. James Leckey for a presentation in the entrance of the factory.   Mr. Leckey is everything you'd hope to find in a person working to help children with special needs.  A tender, huge heart for those in need.  A man of great character doing his best to change lives for the better.  He lives and breathes his motto of "it's not just what we make, it's what we make possible." I loved how genuine Mr. Leckey and his entire team were.  They are working in all the right directions for all the right reasons.  They want to help, they want to be there to make a difference in the lives of anyone who needs their services and equipment.  They want to help the special needs community in so many beautiful ways.  

I enjoyed Mr. Leckey's enthusiasm and his unwavering sense of hope.  His encouragement in all things possible.  His presentation was lovely and delivered new ideas that will be life changing for children like Noah.  A true motivator and believer in inspiring positive change.  Leckey is a team of almost 150 employees creating and designing quality products that we desperately need and so many children continue to benefit from these blossoming ideas. 

It then came for the part that all of us had eagerly been waiting for.  The tour of the entire factory! 

I know you're thinking it's just a factory.  Why on earth would you be so excited?  

Well here's the thing:   When you are a parent to a child who has special needs an equipment factory that is filled with pieces of equipment that could benefit your child with every day living, feels like you just wound up in Candyland.   You'd look at something and would be like... I want that!!  Or look in the other direction and be like I want that too!  And that too!   Unfortunately the price tags in the US make some things rather impossible for us here.  I get that, I do.  I live it each day.  The same frustrations many of you do.  Medicaid appeals, daily fights for insurance, equipment you can't afford of of pocket.  But these costs don't come directly from Leckey.  Because they are located in the UK they have to work with many third parties to get these products here, some you are familiar with like Ottobock and your local DME (Durable Medical Equipment Providers) they all get to tack on whatever costs they want to the Leckey product once it leaves their factory.  Which is very appealing with the Firefly brand of Leckey.  They are making products that cut out all the middle people, designing products that are more affordable and within reach.  

Every piece is sewn by hand!

Large tables cut fabric that is ready to be sewn
The signatures of almost 150 employees that work for Leckey promising to make a difference in the life of your child with special needs

Upon exploring another recent Leckey product called the Comfee Seat for another family in the US, I received the following information by email from a local Ottobock representative:  "retail prices set for a modestly equipped ‘package’ for each of the three sizes. These mocked up packages include the seat shell and cushions, wooden tray, headrest, lateral calf supports and trunk laterals.  For a size 1, the retail has been set at approximately $10,800, size 2 at $11,900 and size 3 at $12,600, (I’m rounding) with a shipping cost of $650."  You don't even want me to tell you what the Comfee Seat retails for at Leckey.  I will tell you it's not even half the cost.   To date I do not know of any US family that has yet obtained the Comfee Seat, simply because of the price tag and insurance deeming this alternative seating and a non-covered benefit.  

The Comfee Seat by Leckey

Yes it's as wonderful as it looks!
I don't know if it will always be this way, deep down I'll tell you a little secret... I'm holding out hope that maybe, just maybe someday there will be a Leckey factory somewhere in the US!   And then the costs wouldn't be so astronomical and out of reach.  I know it's nice for a girl to dream!   But sometimes dreams do come true.  You just have to believe.  So I'm never going to give up that someday it will be easier somehow, someway for our children to obtain these things here in the US without parents knowing they can't ever reach the price tag.

The factory also gave me a greater understanding and appreciation for the time and love that is literally invested in each piece of equipment.  Everything is hand-made.  Hand sewn and put together completely by hand.  One Comfee Seat in itself takes 36 hours from start to finish to be made.   Before visiting the factory I'd look at Noah's Leckey Mygo and think it was machine produced, I had no idea that there was someone behind the scenes who sewed every stitch by hand.  Carved and molded the base and metal.  It's a factory where they put a personal touch on every product.  It means something to them.  To all of them.  They are making quality products because they are taking the time to make sure they stand the test of time for our children. 

I always knew that Leckey made good products. Noah has always responded to the equipment they make favorably, and I am so glad I got a chance to come away with a bigger understanding of just what makes them such a great company!  

Some of our new friends


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.