The north Northumberland inventors of a revolutionary hoist allowing wheelchair users to enjoy caravan holidays are launching their product nationally after securing investment from the Finance for Business North East Proof of Concept (POC) fund.
As reported in the Gazette in June, the Belford Transfer Lift, brainchild of brothers John and Jim Little, is an electric hoist that lifts wheelchair users in and out of caravans and motor homes.
The pair developed the device six years ago after Jim’s wife Carol was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Now the hoist is to go on sale nationally after they took advice from Business Link and secured an £83,000 investment from the POC fund, managed by Northstar Ventures.
So far this year, it has been exhibited at trade shows in Newark, Chepstow, Peterborough and Birmingham.
As well as having a demonstration model, potential distributors and franchisees have been able to try out the prototype fitted to Jim’s motorhome.
Richard Exley, of Northstar, said: “A patent application is pending, and disabled groups are already saying there is nothing else like it in the world.
“One of the best things about it is that you don’t have to alter the vehicle – which makes it much easier to replace your caravan or motorhome and sell the old one to able-bodied buyers.
“And for anyone who is registered disabled, the device is VAT-free.
“Jim and John have taken what was a scribble on the back of an envelope, borne out of necessity, and turned it into a product that is set to go nationwide.
“Working with a network of distributors and developing the franchise model means the company’s growth could be very rapid.”
For more information, visit www.belfordtransferlift.com