Nationwide Platforms and Skyjack team up for charity

14 July 2016

The 'Flying Wurlitzer.'

The 'Flying Wurlitzer.'

Skyjack recently donated a lift to help create what is believed to be the only lifting Wurlitzer organ in Europe at a cinema in Cumbria, UK.

“This has been a great opportunity for industry to get involved with charity and we are delighted that Skyjack donated the lift, allowing the Wurlitzer to finally be used in its original glory, elevated during films to provide live entertainment,” said Paul Adorian, managing director of the Association for the Independence of Disabled People (AID), which was launched in 2014 to help raise awareness of the needs of severely disabled individuals.

Skyjack donated a modified SJ3215 DC electric scissor lift to the cinema as part of its 30 FOR 30 PARTNERS campaign, which celebrates the company's 30th business anniversary. The unit is being used to elevate a restored 1927 Wurlitzer theater organ at the Royalty Cinema in Bowness-on-Windermere, recreating the early movie-going experience of live and often improvised accompaniment.

The “Flying Wurlitzer,” as it has been dubbed, will be unveiled at a special charity movie night in the coming months, where all funds raised will go towards funding a new drug trial.

“If successful, this treatment will significantly improve the lives of those with Motor Neurone Disease,” said AID Founder and Chairman, the Hon. Ruth Adorian, who herself was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2007.

“We are delighted to be a part of this worthwhile project,” said David Hall, project and business development manager for Skyjack. “It's great to see this come to life and I'm sure it will draw a lot of attention and funds for the charity.”

Successful partnership

Skyjack partnered with Nationwide Platforms, a UK provider of powered access platforms, on the project. Headquartered in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, Nationwide Platforms provided the power pack and carried out the tricky installation beneath the cinema floor.

“The project was more challenging than first thought but was far too interesting not to pursue, and if the group could rebuild the Wurlitzer, we could make it rise,” said Andrew Briggs, regional director at Nationwide Platforms. “Skyjack supplied the modified SJ3215 scissor lift and we roped in regional engineer, Steve Reeves, to build the power pack, design the control system and help with the below ground level installation at the cinema.”

A group of volunteers spent five years restoring the large pipe organ, which was built in 1927 and originally installed in a U.S. theatre, according to the BBC. The instrument has all the bells and whistles needed to produce a wide range of sounds from bird whistles to the clopping of horses' hooves.

The Flying Wurlitzer

“It has been a unique occasion that saw two completely independent companies from the access sector contact us looking to contribute to our charity events,” Adorian said. “We are expecting a full house in the 400-seat theater on the night as so many will be looking forward to seeing the 'Flying Wurlitzer', and we have several surprises lined up for guests.”

Skyjack and Nationwide Platforms modified the SJ3215 DC electric scissor lift, using only the scissor stack. They designed and manufactured a new base plate weldment to bolt the unit to the concrete base and attached a large false wooden floor to a top plate weldment, where the organ now sits.

“As the 'Flying Wurlitzer' is now a device for lifting people, it requires inspection, and when compliance has been demonstrated, the appropriate certificate will be issued by Powered Access Certification Ltd, who have provided their services without charge,” Adorian said.

Skyjack launched its 30 For 30 PARTNERS campaign at The Rental Show in February 2015, marking the company's 30th business anniversary. Through the project, Skyjack has assisted more than a dozen worthwhile projects around the world.

The Association for the Independence of Disabled People welcomes donations to their cause and can be found at

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