Trevor Baylis, inventor of the wind-up clock, started his National Service as a physical training instructor at 20, during which time he swam for both the army and Imperial Services.

Afterwards, he took a job with Purley Pools. His swimming skills enabled him to demonstrate the pools and drew the crowds at shows, and this led him to form his own aquatic display company as a professional swimmer and stunt performer.

With money earned from performing as an underwater escape artiste in the Berlin Circus he set up Shotline Steel Swimming Pools, which supplies modular swimming pools to UK schools. Having lots of stunt friends whose careers ended in disability, Baylis invented a range of products for the disabled called Orange Aids.

It was while watching a programme on the need for education through radio broadcasts to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa that he invented the wind-up radio.

Key achievements

  1. His wind-up prototype was featured on the BBC TV programme Tomorrow’s World in April 1994
  2. Using money from investors to form the company Freeplay Energy. The Freeplay radio was awarded the BBC Design Award for Best Product and Best Design
  3. Being awarded both an OBE and a CBE

Lessons for your store

  1. Use work to help people you care about – look at Baylis’ Orange Aids
  2. Passion drives innovation – Baylis’ desire to fight the spread of AIDS led to the creation of wind-up radios
  3. Concentrate on your strengths – like Baylis did with swimming