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Tonbridge schoolgirl Lara Pincott receives specially built prosthetic hand from students at The Schools at Somerhill

A schoolgirl who was born with one hand has had a brand new one assembled for her by a technology company - with the help of her classmates. 

Lara Pincott, a year 5 student at Derwent Lodge in Tonbridge, never wanted a prosthetic hand until she was inspired by a CBBC news broadcast earlier this year. 

The clip demonstrated prosthetics created using state-of-the-art 3D printing and piqued her interest. 

Lara Pincott with her 3D designed prosthetic hand Picture Gary Browne

Lara Pincott with her 3D designed prosthetic hand Picture: Gary Browne

Lara, 10, helped design attachments as she grew up to enable her to cut her food and ride a bike but after seeing the news clip decided she would like to try and get a new, 3D hand. 

Her mum, Lucinda, took action and got in touch with the school's technology teacher, Mrs Saffer - who is a joint partner in technology company, Techielab.

Mrs Pincott added: "Mrs Saffer said she was already thinking of doing a 3D project at the school but said she'd love to make the hand for Lara and got her partner, David Buch, and their company, Techielab, involved.


Video: Reporter Graham Stothard arm wrestles with Lara's prosthetic hand

"They created a massive project involving the whole school. I never knew you could print your own prosthetic hands which is pretty amazing."

Techielab, with the help of The Schools at Somerhill - a group under which Derwent Lodge falls - organised and hosted a 3D hand assembling workshop earlier this month. 

As part of 'Project Lara' more than 200 children assembled 3D hands, including one for Lara, using equipment designed and created by Techielab. 

Special guests at the event included teenagers with one hand who assembled new 3D prosthetic hands, which they took home with them.

A Somerhill grandparent, who was also born with one hand, had a new one assembled for her by her grandson, who is a student at Derwent Lodge.

An expert neuro-physiotherapist also joined the group to explain how hands work, from the physical components to the messages our brain sends to our limbs. 

Mrs Pincott, of Addlestead Road in Tonbridge, added: "Mrs Saffer's partner David runs Techielab and he has been great, he is the brains behind it all and provided the equipment.

"It was really an amazing feeling seeing all the kids there and getting involved. It's been such a confidence booster for Lara too. She used to be a bit shy but she got up to speak to the whole school about her hand. 

"It's been really positive and she loves having the hand. She has always been happy to speak about it but the kids at school think it's a really cool new thing and are always asking her questions. "

A 3D printer can make a hand for as little as £6. Pupils at the school were given all the parts that make up a mechanical hand as a starting point, printed by Techielab, and worked throughout the day to assemble them.

Lara can play the trumpet, piano and other instruments with her new hand. Picture Gary Browne

Lara can play the trumpet, piano and other instruments with her new hand. Picture: Gary Browne

A spokesman for Techielab said:  "With full support of the Charitable Trust and staff at her school, Lara and her teacher decided to embark on a futuristic pseudo Sci-Fi adventure to print her a hand. 

"We are starting with a simple mechanical hand from the fantastic E-nable community. 
Stage 2 is to design a prototype and add electronics and explore materials to interface with the 3D printed hand to add comfort and functionality. 

"Stage 3 incorporates connecting the electronics to muscle signals and ultimately, moved by the inspirational Easton LaChapelle, we would like to explore brain signalling solutions. 

"Our project is different from any other out there because we want the children to be more than recipients, we want them to be part of the discovery process. "

A spokesman for Schools at Somerhill said: "From that first bit of CBBC in February to the this event in June; 200 innovators in 20 teams building 50 hands in one afternoon. I am sure you will agree that Project Lara has come a long way. And it’s only just beginning."

Speaking about the technology day, Lara said: ""It was an amazing day and was really interesting to see other one handed children. Thank you to Mrs Saffer, David at Techielab, and Somerhill for literally giving me a helping hand."

Techielab is donating all of the hands made during the workshop to charities around the world, from Brazil to Eastern Europe.

The hands, designed and printed by Techielab, have been packaged up and will be sent to charities across the world. Picture Techielab

The hands, designed and printed by Techielab, have been packaged up and will be sent to charities across the world. Picture: Techielab

David Buch said: "We were delighted in getting the school involved, as part of the push of Techielab, is to enable children to change their own world. We promote this in our summer camps which are purely technology based camps on robotics and other technologies."

The company will now continue to work to improve the designs further.

For more information about Techielab and Lara's story click here


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