Margot Cooper - Founder, Limbs & Things

Medical artist Margot Cooper gave up illustrating after her third child was born, and started making anatomical models to order at home to fit around family life. That’s when she spotted an opportunity: “Nurses and trainee doctors really needed models to practice on,” she says. “I had seen some unacceptable incidents in the operating theatre and really wanted to make a contribution to training.” In 1990, she launched Limbs & Things, which makes a wide range of lifelike models. Now, she is expanding the company around the world, helping to shape the next generation of medical professionals and, ultimately, save many lives. 

Q&A

What’s your personal ambition?

This is a family business. My sister, who is a nurse, set up our office in Australia and one of my sons works in the business. I would like it to remain a family business. My daughter is a plastic surgeon and I have quite a few grandchildren already so there is a lot going for us, in Cooper family terms.

Where is growth coming from over the next five years?

We have a big R&D department here, full of medical sculptors and very clever technical people. There are 20 of them now, working on our next models. Around £5m of our £19m turnover comes from outside the UK and we are working hard to grow in the US right now. They have a problem with obesity in the US, which means we need to make changes to our models. You have to be completely accurate when replacing patients for training, right down to the sound and feel of the body.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Our most important product is the birthing model, which we developed here in Bristol. We are part of a training programme using that model, and the results have been extraordinary. At the local hospital, Southmead, there have been zero birthing accidents since training started. We have eradicated Erb’s Palsy – where baby’s brains are damaged during childbirth. It’s become the safest place in the world to have a baby. That programme has now been rolled out into 20 countries which I’m incredibly proud of.

“We are saving lives and ensuring babies are born safely on five continents. That is hugely rewarding, both to myself and to everyone who works here.”

Margot Cooper, Founder, Limbs & Things