Major airline backs disabled entrepreneur invention

28 March 2019

Stelios Award winner Josh WintergillTwenty-five-year-old entrepreneur Josh Wintersgill has unveiled a radical invention to help disabled people transfer safely to airline seats, only three months after winning the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs from easyJet founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. 

The Stelios Award, presented in partnership with Leonard Cheshire, recognises the best business ideas after a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style interview challenge, with winners picking up £10,000 each and the overall winner receiving £30,000 in start-up funds from Sir Stelios.

Sir Stelios said:

‘As is the often the case — the simplest ideas can be the best.

‘Josh has had an idea, which is the near-perfect solution to the indignity, discomfort and embarrassment experienced by disabled people when trying to access aircraft seats.

‘I’m very confident that easyTravelseat will soon become as synonymous for ease and comfort as Stannah has for stairlifts.’

Josh’s product, the easyTravelseat, is an in-situ transfer seat enabling people with reduced mobility to use aeroplane seats safely, comfortably, and with dignity. easyJet’s adoption of the technology makes the seat the first such product to be used by a major airline.

In the whirlwind four months since winning awards Josh has started evolving his start-up into a fully-fledged business in partnership with Sir Stelios and his easy® family of brands by securing a brand license deal and private investment.

Josh, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, says he faces many physical challenges himself, but is determined to help disabled people overcome the difficulties associated with air travel.

‘I want to provide a product that I know will help change people’s lives immediately, giving those people the ability to go and adventure the world.

‘The last four months have been a steep learning curve but a highly rewarding one too. My life has changed completely — before winning the award I had to move house within the private sector which came with many challenges, to finding myself in a position where I am shipping easyTravelseats and looking to expand the business to a global reach. 

‘A great moment for me was being invited back to my old uni to speak to students about entrepreneurship and inspire them to start their own businesses.’

Josh’s message to budding entrepreneurs is simple: if you make your own opportunities to begin with, many more will come your way.

Josh said:

‘At first, people do not create doors for you, you do. The more doors you create, the more opportunities and before you know it doors are being built and opened for you.

‘That process of making connections and seizing opportunities just becomes self-sustaining.’

If addressing students and launching his own business wasn’t enough, Josh is also training and inspiring to get a spot within the Great Britain Paralympic shooting team with the hope of one day competing at a Paralympic games.

The easyTravelseat, made by Josh Wintersgill’s company AbleMove in partnership with easy® family of brands, is now available for order through the easyTravelseat website.

Media enquiries

For further information, interview requests and interviews, please contact: Samuel Buckley on samuel.buckley@leonardcheshire.org or 020 3242 0204.  Out of hours contact 07903 949 388. 

For information or interviews with Sir Stelios please email Richard Shackleton on richard.shackleton@easygroup.co.uk or call 07905 779 799.  Alternatively, email Tracy Ghori on tg@stelios.com or call 07900 606 557.

Notes for editors:

  • The Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs was started in 2006, with the aim to showcase the unique talents and business skills in the disabled community.
  • Past winners have been drawn from the travel agency, building and IT sectors as well as businesses specialising in disability and mobility aids and services.   For more information go to www.leonardcheshire.org/stelios  
  • The Stelios Philanthropic Foundation is a registered charity in both Monaco and the UK which backs several charitable initiatives in the UK, Greece and Cyprus. The Foundation gives support in four main areas: scholarships, supporting entrepreneurship with cash prizes, donating money to environmental and other charities and operating a poverty relief programme in Greece and Cyprus — ‘Food from the heart’.
  • Sir Stelios also joins the group of philanthropists led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who pledge to give most of their wealth to charity. Giving Pledge was started in 2010, and now has 168 signatories from 21 countries. Sir Stelios is the first Greek/Cypriot and the first resident of Monaco to join.

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