Penicuik pupil takes top award for football invention

Eliot Comnene with Baroness Wilcox
Eliot Comnene with Baroness Wilcox
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FROM Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone to Dolly the Sheep, there’s a proud history of innovation in the Lothians.

Now creative Bonnyrigg 13-year-old Elliot Comnene has proved that the tradition is alive and kicking, after he scooped a national invention prize.

Elliot, a pupil at Beeslack Community High School in Penicuik, has designed the Footie Chair Spring-O-Matic, a device to help wheelchair users play football, after he was inspired by the upcoming Paralympics.

Merlin Crossingham, creative director at Aardman Animations, the company behind Wallace and Gromit, was so impressed that he picked Elliot’s creation for a national award in the UK Government-backed Cracking Ideas competition, ahead of 4000 other entries.

Speaking after the awards ceremony, Elliot said: “I’m quite surprised but happy as well. I saw a few other ideas that were good so I thought they would win.

“My teacher Mr Whyte was telling us about intellectual property, then he mentioned the competition and we worked on ideas and he said we could send them off if we wanted.

“I quite like making things, I want to be an author but I would possibly think of being an inventor too.”

Elliot’s brief was to come up with a sporty creation and highlight the four types of intellectual property – an invention or gadget itself, the design of the product, a name or logo to trade mark and a copyrighted advertising campaign.

The Footie Chair Spring-O-Matic makes use of Wallace and Gromit-style gadgets and contraptions with multiple levers and buttons to allow shooting, tackling and dribbling skills to be developed.

It comes with a direction and speed lever, springs which bounce the ball between them while dribbling, a shooter spring and a timing mechanism.

The design, which Elliot drew up in a little over an hour, won praise for its clear style and brand development, using a well-thought-out logo and the use of the internationally recognised symbol for copyright.

Mr Crossingham, who has worked on films such as Chicken Run and Curse of the Were-Rabbit, said: “Elliot has really embraced the sporting theme along with a clear understanding of copyright.

“He has presented his idea really clearly but most of all Wallace himself would have been very proud to have come up with this idea, but clearly he can’t because Elliot has got there first.”

Elliot was given an original trophy created by Oscar- winning Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park’s Aardman Animation studio, a board game, animation software, DVD and a book signed by Mr Park.

Baroness Wilcox, Minister for Intellectual Property, announced Elliot as the overall winner in the 12-16 age group yesterday, in a ceremony at the Liverpool Spaceport.

The Cracking Ideas competition was run by the Intellectual Property Office, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, in collaboration with Aardman Animations. It was set up to increase creativity and innovation among children.