Church elder invents a no-spill spoon for people with shaky hands

Church elder Grant Douglas has invented a no-spill spoon to help people with disabilities who have trouble keeping food steady as they are eating.

Grant Douglas Grant Douglas with his revolutionary S'up spoon

Grant, who has cerebral palsy himself, told Jackie Macadam, a staff writer for Life and Work magazine, how his revolutionary invention, the 'S'up Spoon', is transforming mealtimes for some people with disabilities.

Grant, the son of the Rev Alex Douglas, former minister at Edinburgh: Blackhall St Columba's, has mobility problems and a tremor that makes it difficult to hold small items and use them with precision.

A particular issue for him is feeding himself.

"It's incredibly frustrating. I needed a deeper spoon with a 'lid' that would allow me to hold food on it more easily and a handle with a raised section to let me slip my fingers underneath the handle to pick it up."

As he grew older, the idea of a spoon began to take shape and he found his involvement with the Church helpful in developing the idea.

"One Christmas Fayre at the church I got to chatting with some folk there and I mentioned how I was trying to invent a spoon so that I could at least have my breakfast in the morning!" A good friend overheard me talking and they knew the director of a design firm in Glasgow and they passed me on to them.

"They took the idea on as a project and about 18 months of trials and tests of different shapes followed until the shape was just right. The 'S'up, a spoon for shaky hands was born.

"It has a curved handle so I can fit a finger under it and lift it (most cutlery is nearly flat to the table) and the bowl is deep but with a high upper surface that keeps the food from falling out.

"Three days before Christmas in 2014 I took delivery of my 'S'up Spoon' and I ate my whole Christmas meal without spilling anything for the first time in my life.

"For most people it might seem silly celebrating being able to eat a bowl of soup but if you're disabled, it's really the little things that make a big difference to how you feel about yourself.

"I even take extra portions now!"

Producing the spoon has involved overcoming obstacles.

"Getting the spoon into production needed money and at first I tried crowdfunding. The designers and I reckoned we'd need about £33,000 and in a month I raised £16,000 – largely thanks to the generosity of members of the congregation.

"Unfortunately, if you don't raise your full amount in the allotted time, you don't get anything, so that was a bust.

"However, the members of the congregation who had offered their money approached me and said they would still be happy to make the donation if I could do it another way."

After a meeting with the designers, it was agreed to move ahead with the funds already pledged.

"I now have a website selling the spoon and it's being bought by people all over the world. We've shipped to every continent.

"It costs £15 and so far, 500 have been sold. It's not just people like me with cerebral palsy who are finding it useful. People with Parkinson's Disease are buying it and anyone with a tremor in their hands is able to use it.

"It's my spoon, but it wouldn't have been possible without the help and the faith in me from the people of my congregation. I can't thank them enough."

This article is reprinted with the permission of Life and Work magazine.

Find out more or purchase a S'up spoon.