The Story So Far
XL Direct was formed through many years of heartache and pain. Russell Oakes, our MD was a child carer from being very young. His Mother, Ann was severely disabled with Rheumatoid Arthritis, diagnosed at 29. His Father, Rick suffered from Hodgkin’s disease (cancer of the Lymph glands) at 22 and underwent a further fight with cancer 3 times brought on by the Radiation used to cure him. He had epilepsy and was reliant on strong medication all of his life.
As Russell grew, Mum and Dad had carers come in the home to help, but slowly both parents declined in health. Ann underwent over 40 operations in her lifetime which included 6 replacement knees, 4 hip replacements, neck fusion, both ankles’ fused and the list goes on.
The main disabilitating fact was Ann could not sleep or get comfortable while sitting! “I remember her sat on a dining room chair for years, just to get some kind of relief or she would sit for hours in her uncomfortable wheelchair”. However it was sleep or the lack of sleep that was causing the major stress.
Russell was drawn to the bespoke furniture and bed design through necessity. In 1998 he worked along with his now business partner Michael to create the first bespoke adjustable bed (that didn’t look like a hospital bed), the original bed they made for Ann was only 18” high. The boys found the softest pressure relieving mattress product on the market (Memory Foam was not available). “As we got better, she slept better” that was enough motivation for the boys to get her sleeping and then they tackled sitting. At that time Rise and Recline chairs were old fashioned, huge and uncomfortable “We changed all that!!”
Twenty years later, sadly Russell’s Mum and Dad are no longer with us, but their legacy lives on. The beds and chairs designed to help them have helped 1000’s of people around the UK.
In the words of Russell “We are NOT a Mobility company! We are NOT a sales company! We help people to Sit & Sleep better – now you can’t get better than that!!”
p.s. If you were wondering where the name came from, Russell was one of the media team for Excel Airways, the fated XL.com brand. He liked the name, simply because it was eXceLent.