New Chair of Trustees

Designability has officially welcomed its new Chair of Trustees.

Jerry Marwood has taken over the role at a time when the charity is expanding its services across the UK through the design, engineering and provision of products disabled people want to use.

Jerry’s impressive background in retail, wholesale and hospitality will prove invaluable to Designability as the charity draws on his years of experience to help it continue to grow.

Currently Group Managing Director of AF Blakemore & Son, Jerry is responsible for running one of the UK’s top 50 privately held businesses with sales of £1.2 billion. He previously ran the convenience store business SPAR in the UK for ten years and is now a member of their Board and Remuneration Committee, and Chair of the Audit Committee.

In addition to this impressive executive career, his non-executive posts reflect his wide range of interests, including board roles at the field marketing business eXPD8 and Preston EV who are developing real world applications for autonomous transport. He has also been on the board of the British Retail Consortium and the Association of Convenience Stores.

Leading the Board of Trustees, Jerry will be building on his experience as a trustee of Crisis, the charity for homeless people.

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 (powered wheelchair) 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 whilst 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 the reins from former Chair and longstanding Trustee Libby Gawith who is stepping down from her role after 10 years at Designability.

Libby said, “It has been fantastic to be part of the Designability journey as a Trustee since 2011 and Chair of Trustees since 2015. 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’s Chief Executive Catharine Brown added, “I would like to extend a warm welcome to Jerry as he joins Designability in our mission to make a positive impact on the lives of disabled people. Jerry’s knowledge and experience will be put to good use as we continue with our ambitious plans for growth over the coming years.

“It is with heartfelt thanks that we also say goodbye to Libby for her years of dedication to the charity. 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.”