Widgit software sails into calmer waters

Cate and Tina Detheridge

Two generations of the Detheridge family are now at the helm of Widgit software. The company has been in the doldrums lately with fears that it might be bought out by competitors, interested only in its assets and not in its development arm.

Mike and Tina Detheridge set up Widgit in 1981 to provide symbol support for young people who struggle to read English text. This includes pupils who are learning English as an Additional Language (EAL) and those with learning disabilities or certain forms of autism.

In 2001 the family sold a large stake of their then 20 year old business to Logotron but 10 years later it came to grief when Logotron went into receivership in August of this year. The Detheridge family put together a rescue package with support from Terry Johnson, former partner in the highly successful US company Mayer Johnson, and other right-minded investors. This week they learned that their bid had seen off competition from outsiders.

Now the second generation of Detheridges is leading the way. Cate Detheridge is product manager for the company and develops the symbols while Simon is chief technical officer, responsible for much of the sophisticated programming which underpins the symbol collection in different languages.

Tina Detheridge said she was delighted with the news that their bid had been successful, ‘Widgit has been our life’s work and we were desperately worried that it would disappear. Because of the complex technical developments, I don’t think that any other company would have the programming skills, let alone the vision and passion, to take it on.’

Widgit is in safe hands now and is making headway with a number of improvements and new developments.