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Valerie Hunter Gordon

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Valerie Hunter Gordon (née Valerie Ziani de Ferranti: 7 December 1921 – 16 October 2016) was the inventor of the first disposable nappy, which was eventually commercialised as PADDI, and later Nikini, an early sanitary towel system for women.

She was the granddaughter of inventor Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti (founder of British electrical engineering company Ferranti).

The two-part disposable nappy was initially made from old parachutes, tissue wadding, and cotton wool, and Mrs Hunter Gordon made hundreds of the garments using a sewing machine at her kitchen table, supplying friends and constantly modifying the design.

A patent was made in April 1948, later granted for the PADDI garment in the UK in October 1949, but not for the disposal pad inserts

In 1950, Boots agreed to sell PADDI in all their branches, and in 1951 the PADDI patent was granted for the US and worldwide.

PADDI sales reached 6 million by 1960, and the family turned down offers by large companies such as Playtex to buy them out.

However, the company ultimately went into decline in the 1960s, with the arrival of the American brand Pampers.

Speaking to the BBC in 2015, Mrs Hunter Gordon said she had found washing nappies much too laborious and so began searching for disposables:

"I thought you must be able to buy them - but you couldn't, not anywhere," she said.

"It seemed extraordinary that it hadn't been done before. I thought, it's easy, I'll make them. But it wasn't easy. It was quite tricky.

"Everybody who saw them said, Valerie, please would you make one for me? And so I ended up by making about over 600 of them.

"I spent my time sitting at my mother's sewing machine, making these wretched things."

Paddis replaced absorbent cotton towelling nappies, which had to be washed after each use.

"Everybody wanted to stop washing nappies. Nowadays they seem to want to wash them again - good luck to them," Mrs Hunter Gordon said last year.

- Disposable nappy inventor Valerie Hunter Gordon dies aged 94 - BBC News[1]

References

1 Disposable nappy inventor Valerie Hunter Gordon dies aged 94 - BBC News Retrieved January 08, 2017.

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