How Lorna is watch­ing the backs of staff work­ing with chil­dren

Busi­ness ed­i­tor Robin John­son talks to Lorna Tay­lor, founder of Jolly Back – a Der­byshire firm which de­vel­ops prod­ucts which help im­prove the pos­ture of teach­ers and pupils in the class­room.

Derby Telegraph - - BUSINESS -

DUR­ING our pri­mary school days many of us will re­mem­ber the teacher ask­ing us to sit up straight.

How­ever, it is more than likely that the teacher was not sit­ting up straight them­selves be­cause they were made to use the same chairs as us kids.

Hav­ing the right type of chair is im­por­tant to main­tain­ing good pos­ture, whether it is in the class­room or the of­fice.

And it was the prob­lems be­ing faced by younger years school­teach­ers that in­spired phys­io­ther­a­pist Lorna Tay­lor to find a so­lu­tion.

She said: “It was while I was de­liv­er­ing a back health pro­gramme in schools that I be­came aware of the sheer num­ber of teach­ers and sup­port staff work­ing in pri­mary and early years who had back, neck, hip and knee prob­lems.

“This was at the same time that my mid­dle daugh­ter started at preschool. Her key­worker had just re­turned from six weeks off with back pain.

“She cares for her dis­abled son and fre­quently has to turn him ev­ery night. When I saw her sat hunched over on a tiny old kid’s school chair with a pained ex­pres­sion, I knew I had to do some­thing.

“I set about look­ing for a low, mo­bile teacher’s chair with a seat wedge to im­prove nat­u­ral up­right pos­ture when sit­ting low down and wheels to re­duce the twist­ing and shear­ing forces on the spine.

“Af­ter an ex­ten­sive search I dis­cov­ered there was no such prod­uct. So, I de­cided to come up with my own.”

In 2009, mother-of-three Lorna, who lives at Smal­ley, de­cided to set up her own firm called Jolly Back to de­velop a spe­cial chair for preschool teach­ers that could be used in the class­room.

Armed with a bud­get of just £3,000, she set about find­ing a so­lu­tion.

She said: “I started with one of the pre-school chairs and thought I’d just add wheels to it. How­ever, I soon dis­cov­ered the tub­ing was too nar­row.

“Af­ter a Google search I found sev- eral en­gi­neer­ing and met­al­work com­pa­nies in Derby and one of them – MCE En­gi­neer­ing – of­fered to help. We came up with a pro­to­type and got as much feed­back as I could from schools and end-users.”

The feed­back was pos­i­tive and Lorna se­cured fund­ing for the project through Medilink East Mid­lands and reg­is­tered the de­sign with the Patents Of­fice thanks to Derby’s Swindell and Pear­son.

It wasn’t long un­til the Jolly Back chair started win­ning awards. For ex­am­ple, in 2012, it won best new prod­uct at the In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Show, in Birm­ing­ham.

Lorna said: “The ed­u­ca­tion and busi­ness awards, along with a bril­liantly writ­ten press re­lease, with­out doubt helped me se­cure the first sales.

“The awards were free to en­ter, so it was fab­u­lous ex­ter­nal recog­ni­tion and pro­mo­tion.

“It also re­ally helped boost my con­fi­dence. When you work by your­self there isn’t an ap­praisal or work col­leagues to bounce an idea off.

“Win­ning an award is also mo­ti­vat­ing, too, as the hours are very long at the start. It spurred me on.”

Since then, Jolly Back has grown steadily and or­gan­i­cally. But Lorna ad­mits it has been chal­leng­ing bal­anc­ing rais­ing three chil­dren while de­vel­op­ing a busi­ness.

She said: “I have been keen to grow the busi­ness for sev­eral years

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