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Basingstoke couple Pat and David Steele have invented a duvet that unzips to go into the washing machine

Steele family with panelled duvet

A husband and wife from South Ham, Basingstoke have won a prize for inventing a revolutionary duvet which can be fitted into an ordinary domestic washing machine. The panelled duvet can be zipped apart and quickly washed, providing an ideal solution for the parents of children who sometimes wet the bed. After winning a top design competition, the couple are now planning to market their invention on national television.

Pat Steele came up with the idea when she spilled coffee on her duvet in 2001 and she had to go through the laborious process of hauling it down the the launderette which was miles away. Pat said, "It was such a drag to wash the duvet, I started thinking that there must be a different way of doing it.

Pat and her husband David, who are both 51, together devised the panel system and within 18 months had secured a British Patent on the design. Neither is a professional inventor — Pat works in Basingstoke JobCentre while David is employed at Southern Electric.

Pat believes the duvet is ideal for parents who have children who wet the bed, or for anyone who wants to keep their duvet fresh without the usual hassle or cost. It can also be a money-saving duvet since dry-cleaning can cost over £20. To top it all, the duvet is environmentally friendly — Pat said, "People who don't wash their duvet eventually have to throw it away and apparently it is very hard to dispose of in landfill sites.

The duvet has only been on sale since January in Kaleidoscope magazine and through Littlewoods, but just last month the entrepreneurial couple won a lucrative business competition. At the 2004 Innovention Awards ceremony in Winchester on June 25th the Steeles won the £6500 first prize in the Individual category. The prize was given to the invention with the most commercial potential, which has given the couple the confidence to try to secure a place on QVC, a shopping channel. They are hoping to be on TV by the autumn where Pat believes they could receive the exposure needed to make their duvet a big success.

She says, "I think it has the potential to replace the standard duvet in many people's homes".

To buy one of Pat and David's duvets go to http://www.littlewoods-online.com

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