Find A Better Way announces major breakthrough in quest to clear landmines

A major technological breakthrough, which could help to save thousands of lives in war torn countries, has been announced by Cheshire based Landmines research charity, Find A Better Way.

The charity, founded by 1966 World Cup hero Sir Bobby Charlton, has been financially supporting research by engineering technologists in Barrow-in-Furness.

Now a hi-tech prototype probe which could significantly improve the detection of landmines has been unveiled to the charity’s trustees.

The probe will allow mine detection teams to quickly distinguish landmines from other battle field debris resulting in a huge reduction in the risks taken by landmine removal teams along with a substantial saving in time taken during the removal process.

Find A Better Way Chairman John Edees described the prototype as hugely encouraging. “The benefits of developing an advanced landmine probe are clear,” he said. “For example, it is estimated that to clear Afghanistan of landmines would cost 40 to 50 million US Dollars a year and take 10 years to complete. This breakthrough could help reduce substantially the time taken.”

Ken Seddon, Head of Technical Engineering at Furness College, Barrow, Cumbria, has led the research effort.

He said that landmine detection has effectively remained the same since World War Two. Soldiers risk their lives prodding the ground with a bayonet until they hit a potential mine and then attempt to dig it out.

But huge amounts of time is wasted digging up tree roots and battleground debris as there is no way of telling what object has been struck by the bayonet.

“We have been able to design a prototype probe which can identify landmines via their unique acoustic signature making detection far easier and saving a lot of time,” explained Ken.

Now work will continue to ensure the development of a probe which can be used as a hand held manual devise or an automatic remotely controlled machine and to create a probe which works across all grades of ground hardness.

Founded by Sir Bobby Charlton, Find A Better Way is a unique charity created to provide practical humanitarian solutions to the global problem of landmines.

Sir Bobby set up the organisation – based at Booths Hall, Knutsford – after witnessing the untold misery caused by unexploded landmines during a visit to Cambodia.

Find A Better Way has made tremendous progress in its first year as a charity with the excellent support from the leading institutions in the global risk management industry.

Furness College is a centre of excellence for the training of engineers due to the town of Barrow’s long ship building tradition.

The college runs degree courses in electrical and mechanical engineering and the under graduate students have worked on the landmine probe prototype as part of their research studies.

Ken Seddon said: “The students involved are inspired by the goal to reduce the suffering caused by landmines and are very keen to move this project forward.

“There is a considerable amount of testing still to be done, but we now have a working prototype for the first time.”

For further information contact Nigel Howle on 07762043436, email nigelhowle@o2.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

Find A Better Way is working with research scientists to develop technology to accelerate the detection and safe removal of the estimated 110 million landmines in place around the world.

Find A Better Way is based at Booths Hall, Knutsford, Cheshire.

For more information on Find A Better Way, please visit their website at www.findabetterway.org.uk