David Constantine – Motivation’s co-founder
At 21, David Constantine took a few months off from his agricultural studies in the UK to travel round Australia with his camera and surfboard. His holiday ended – and his life as he knew it changed forever – on a trip to Fraser Island one hot Sunday in February 1982. David dived into a shallow pool and broke his neck.
Many months later and now back in the UK getting to grips with life as a quadriplegic, David swapped farming for IT and eventually landed a job at IBM. As part of its professional development programme, the company gave each graduate a chance to spend three weeks in another department. David’s first choice didn’t work out: the photography department’s doors were too narrow for his wheelchair. He found himself with IBM’s product design team, and it was here that David had an epiphany. Computer programming wasn’t for him – he needed to do something creative.
It was back to college for David, this time the Royal College of Arts and a Masters in product design. Here – coincidentally – he was tasked with designing a wheelchair for use in developing countries. He teamed up with fellow student Simon Gue and together they designed a wheelchair that was robust, adaptable and award winning.
David and Simon took their Frye Memorial Award prize money and, having teamed up with David’s friend Richard Frost, travelled to Bangladesh to share their wheelchair design with a disability organisation there. In 1991, they established Motivation.
Twenty one years, thousands of life-changing wheelchairs and dozens of accolades later, David Constantine MBE is still the driving force behind Motivation. In 2011 he featured in the Independent on Sunday’s Happy List – 100 people who make Britain a better place to live. And he didn’t let the narrow doors of IBM’s photography department get in his way – he’s also a well-respected travel photographer