Experienced retail industry executive takes over as chair of Bath charity Designability

January 6, 2022
Designability, the Bath charity that enables disabled people to live with greater independence, has officially welcomed its new chair of trustees.
Jerry Marwood, pictured, has taken on the role at a time when the charity is expanding across the UK and widening access to its products, including the unique Wizzybug powered wheelchair, which it has been offering free of charge to very young disabled children since 2011. 

Designability said Mr Marwood’s background in retail, wholesale and hospitality would prove invaluable in helping it to continue to grow.
He is group managing director of West Midlands-based AF Blakemore & Son, which operates SPAR convenience stores and is one of the UK’s top 50 privately held businesses with sales of £1.2bn. 
He previously ran the business SPAR in the UK for 10 years and is now a member of its board and remuneration committee and chair of the audit committee.
He also holds a number of non-executive posts that reflect his wide range of interests, including board roles at Bristol-based field marketing business eXPD8 and Preston EV, which is developing applications for autonomous transport. 
He has also served on the board of the British Retail Consortium and the Association of Convenience Stores and at Designability will build on his experience as a trustee of homeless charity Crisis.
He said: “I am excited to be taking up this role with such an important, forward-thinking and progressive charity. 
“Designability already has a profound and lasting impact on disabled children throughout the UK through the free Wizzybug loan scheme and there is huge scope for the charity to help many more people in the future through its work on electric vehicle charging accessibility, its project to create a pushchair for wheelchair users and more. 

“I hope that my experience will help us as a charity to forge ahead with supporting more children across the UK through the expansion of the Wizzybug loan scheme in the immediate future while we continue to grow and develop other projects.
“In turn I am looking forward to learning about how we can, as a charity and as society, improve accessibility and promote equity for disabled people. We have made great improvements as a country but there is much more that needs to be done. 
“We should be setting an example to the rest of the world of what inclusivity and fairness looks like, and Designability is perfectly placed to help us achieve this.”
Jerry takes over from Libby Gawith, pictured above with him, who had been chair since 2015 and a trustee since 2011.
She said: “It has been fantastic to be part of the Designability journey and I will miss working so closely with the charity. 
“The impact of its work for individuals, families, communities and more is clear to see and I have relished being a part of its story.
“I am proud to have been involved with Designability and I wish Jerry and the team all the best as the charity continues to provide disabled people with the products they want to live the life they choose.” 

Designability chief executive Catharine Brown, pictured with Jerry, right, added: “Jerry’s knowledge and experience will be put to good use as we continue with our ambitious plans for growth over the coming years.
“Libby has overseen some huge milestones with us, including this year’s 10th anniversary of the Wizzybug Loan Scheme. 
“Her contributions over the years have been invaluable and we wish her all the best for the future.”
Designability began life in 1968 as the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering and has since helped more than 300,000 disabled children and adults live with greater independence. 
Its team of designers and engineers based at Bath’s Royal United Hospital create life-changing assistive products to help disabled people who are facing challenges every day.
Designability’s mission is to make products and technology more accessible to everyone. The team follows the principles of human-centered design – everything it develops is done in response to what people tell them they need. 
The aim is for people to achieve greater independence and happiness in their lives – goals that benefit all of society.

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