While visiting Gripple HQ, David Blunkett and his handsome guide dog, Cosby not only learnt about the manufacturer’s unique employee ownership culture but also the staff’s fundraising effort for a charity which trains dogs to support people with disabilities.

Following a walk around the factory floor and a chat with staff, David joined Gripple chairman, Hugh Facey and managing director, Ian Farquhar in a discussion about the company’s values and philosophy after which he met some of the staff who are organising the activities in aid of Support Dogs in Sheffield.

David Blunkett commented: “”Gripple is not simply a highly successful manufacturing enterprise, it is an experience. Employee-owned and driven both by innovation and mutual creativity, this is a Sheffield company displaying all the strengths of our creative history, entrepreneurship and decent employee relations.”

“No bonus culture here but a sharing of the challenge and the rewards. If there were only more companies like Gripple, the world would be a better and more successful place for everyone. There is also a strong team spirit, demonstrated in the staff’s ongoing links with the community.”

Staff at both Gripple and its sister company in Sheffield, Loadhog, are involved in helping Support Dogs, some in their own time. Boxes have been placed at Gripple’s three sites in Sheffield, which enable employees to donate dog toys and food; a training box was designed and produced, with the help of the company’s Ideas and Innovation department; three of the charity’s training rooms were re-decorated and new lighting fitted, and there will be sponsored 12,000ft freefall skydive by a group of daredevil staff this summer! The fundraising is now approaching £1,000.

Danny Anderson, fundraising manager at Support Dogs in Sheffield, said: “Gripple has provided Support Dogs with brilliant support this year to create a more suitable environment for our clients with autism, epilepsy and physical disability when they come to our centre. The amazing ‘demo box’ – which includes a demo washing machine, supermarket shelves, letter box, light switch and alarm cord – will allow us to demonstrate wide ranging skills our assistance dogs learn.”