Since the company was launched in 1983, Gerald Simonds Healthcare has become the leading national supplier of high quality mobility and seating solutions and an acknowledged pioneer of lightweight wheelchairs. The growth of sports therapy programmes in the early eighties improved the physical function of disabled people and empowered many individuals who wanted to achieve more. This increased the demand for 'performance' wheelchairs made of new materials such as aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre.

'There was a big change happening in the eighties,' said Gerald Simonds, 'and we wanted to establish an image for our company that best reflected that increasing sense of independence for people with disabilities.' And so the famous Gerald Simonds 'bird of freedom' was developed and became the recognised symbol of the company.

'People often asked me what species of bird our symbol represented', said Gerald, 'and I told them it was a generic bird of freedom.' However, in 2007, when the time came to update the company's image, to make it more representative of the company's position as a major distributor of the world's best mobility solutions, it was decided to be more specific. 'We still wanted to use a bird that represented freedom, but also one that engendered the spirit of growth and survival that we so often see in our customers,' explained Gerald. 'The red kite seemed perfect.'

Gerald Simonds

Red kites were once a familiar sight across much of England but, by the end of the 1800s, they were all but wiped out. A wingspan of nearly two metres and a relatively small body weight of 2 - 3Ib. make the bird incredibly agile and it can stay in the air for many hours with hardly a beat of its wings. 'The red kite is often to be seen drifting low over the Chilterns, and around Aylesbury, where we are based', said Gerald, 'so we have a combination of fighting spirit, lightness, agility and a local connection. It's the perfect symbol for us.'

To mark the company's thirtieth anniversary and to acknowledge our association with the red kite, Gerald visited the Birds of Prey Centre, situated in the beautiful grounds of the Shuttleworth Estate near Biggleswade. The centre is home to over 200 birds of prey and they kindly arranged for Gerald to meet one of their resident red kites up close.

With thanks to the Birds of Prey Centre, www.birdsofpreycentre.co.uk

May 2013

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