Husband and wife duo Geoff and Sheila Smirthwaite are the founders of G&S Smirthwaite Ltd and pioneers in the development of special needs furniture and equipment.
During Geoff Smirthwaite’s time as a craft, design and technology teacher he mentored one of his students on a project to design a wooden chair. As the project progressed, he saw great potential in the chair and started to examine and exploit the postural benefits. This chair was designed and created some 35 years ago in 1976.
After Geoff retired in 1986, he was approached by a branch of SCOPE in Welwyn who asked if he could make a chair for a boy with cerebral palsy. With a few modifications to his original design, a bespoke chair was presented to the child and, for the first time in the young boy’s life, he was able to sit at the dining table and have a meal with his family.
Shortly after making the chair for SCOPE, Geoff and his wife Sheila started to not only receive phone calls about their ‘special wooden chair’ but also requests from Conductive Education centres asking if they could make a variety of wooden products, such as plinths and ladder back chairs. As news spread about Geoff and Sheila’s ability to collaborate with parents, therapists and children to provide special needs products, the demand rapidly increased. What was initially intended as a retirement hobby soon turned in to full-time work and the creation of a family business.
In 1986 Geoff and Sheila formed G&S Smirthwaite. 25 years on, with over 60 employees, we are proud to sell our products worldwide.
Sadly, Geoff passed away in October 2010 but his legacy lives on and his passion for customer collaboration is still the focus and the catalyst of the company today.
We have just celebrated our Silver Jubilee and our devotion and dedication to providing solutions for disabled and special needs children is still as intense today as it was when Geoff and Sheila first started their journey.