Robert's story has a peg to hang it on

17th April 1998 at 01:00
Why do traditional cloakroom coathooks fail to keep even child-sized clothing hung up safely?

That was the despairing question asked by Greg Wall, head of Erme primary in Ivybridge, Devon, on seeing yet another coat-strewn floor.

But the next day one of his pupils had thought up a solution so good that it is on the brink of going into production.

Robert Mayall, nine, said: "Mr Wall came in from the cloakroom and said: 'Somebody ought to make coat hooks that keep coats on.' So I decided to design one."

As Robert lay in bed that night, inspiration came in a flash. "It only took me a minute to think up," he says. "But drawing it neatly on graph paper took much longer."

His teacher, Lesley Smith, was so impressed she contacted the Design Council, which immediately wrote back to Robert, saying: "Your design shows that you have an understanding of the problem and you have clearly put an enormous amount of effort and good thinking to devise a fantastic solution."

The council put Robert in touch with Tamar Business Link in Plymouth, which is arranging a patent application. And until then he's saying only that it contains a magnet.

Mrs Smith said: "The idea is very commercially sensitive. Although Tamar are already sourcing manufacturers, Robert has been advised not to give away any details until the hook is patented. The other children are agog. It's been a great learning process for all of them."

Nadene Ghouri

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