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The Business Magazine July 2024
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MBE for Gloucestershire engineer who designs bicycles for disabled riders

The Business Magazine article image for: MBE for Gloucestershire engineer who designs bicycles for disabled riders
Bob Griffin Tomcat Trikes
18 June 2024
Bob Griffin Tomcat Trikes

Bob Griffin, who set up Gloucester-based Queen’s Award winning trike manufacturer Tomcat Special Needs Innovation Ltd, in 1997 has been awarded an MBE.

Bob has made a remarkable contribution to engineering and has total dedication to improving the lives of those with disabilities.

In 1997, marine engineer Bob Griffin changed the life of his profoundly disabled stepson for the better. He designed and built a trike that offered the young boy a sense of freedom and independence, experiences denied him because of his disability. 

Thomas had Angelman’s syndrome, typified by severe learning difficulties, sleep disturbance and poor coordination. Bob thought that if Tom could exercise more, he would sleep better, and a pedal bike seemed one answer. But at the time there were no trikes on the market safe for him to ride, and if there were, he would need to solve Tom’s lack of coordination for him to be able to ride while allowing his mother to maintain control over her disabled son’s cycling.

But never underestimate the determination of an engineer faced with an apparently unsolvable problem. Bob invented an entirely new kind of trike which he named the “Tomcat” that cleverly overcame these difficulties.

His first invention, designed in 1997, was the Carer Control system. It revolutionised the cycling experience for thousands of disabled cyclists, first in the UK and then worldwide.

Before this innovation, families with special needs children faced immense challenges, often having to run alongside their child's trike, struggling to steer and ensure safety.

Bob’s passion for finding a solution to a challenge didn’t stop at the Carer Control system. His subsequent designs have opened countless opportunities for individuals with a disability or mobility condition, enabling greater independence and freedom.

Many of his innovations have been adopted by manufacturers worldwide. Tomcat, continues to thrive through a commitment to innovation and exceptional customer service.

Bob said: “A few things came together for me in 1997. A job I didn’t like, the want to help my disabled son Tom achieve more in life, a chance to challenge my engineering skills and a glimpse of how the less able can become more able, once given the chance

“I took the plunge and walked through an open door into a world where everyone was grateful for your help, or wanted to help you in what you were doing through their knowledge and skill. Sometimes easy, sometimes difficult, the journey has always been its own reward, but to receive this MBE in recognition of that journey is undoubtedly the proudest moment of my life and a tribute to so many others who’ve been with me along the way.”

Mike Dawson, the previous Chief Executive at Tewkesbury Borough Council, was one of Gloucestershire’s leading people who supported Robert Griffin’s nomination for a national honour.

He said: “Bob’s contributions to both engineering and the disabled community are truly outstanding. He has built one of Tewkesbury Borough’s and Gloucestershire’s most successful businesses winning not just one, but two prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise along the way. His inventions have brought joy and freedom to so many, he is an amazing man, and this MBE is a well-deserved acknowledgement of his tireless efforts and remarkable achievements.”


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Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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