A COMPANY hopes to save thousands of lives with a new device to deal with landmines in war torn countries around the world.

Disarmco, based in Southend, hopes to launch its Dragon Torch within the next few weeks and is in the final stages of testing its invention designed to safely dispose of landmines and other unexploded ordinance.

The firm, formed in 2012, has already received significant interest from non-government organisations, the United Nations Mine Action Service and commercial organisations to trial the torch in Kuwait, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and the Far East.

It is also being supported by Falklands War veteran, Simon Weston, who is a non-executive director of the company and an ambassador for raising awareness of the dangers of obsolete stockpiles of munitions.

Former SAS soldier, Andy McNab, is also supporting the company in its efforts to spare some of the 20,000 victims of landmines every year from death and mutilation.

Arpana Gandhi, 47, was inspired to help found the company alongside engineer John Reid, 66, because of her fundraising activities for landmine charities.

Ms Gandhi, who divides her time between Southend and London, said: “There are so many people living in conflict and post-conflict countries who face daily dangers due to antipersonnel mines, IEDs and other stockpiled or abandoned explosive o r d - nance.

“My interest in t h i s came about through fundraising I was doing for landmine victims. It was awful to see what landmines do to children and the impact it has on their lives. If they survive it still has an economic impact because they can never work to help their families.

Because they are often Third World countries they can’t buy prosthetic limbs and those they do have are ill-fitting.”

“We want to support charity workers, NGOs and commercial organisations to make their jobs easier and safer through more effective and lower cost technology.

The startup company turned to crowd funding to raise the money it needed to launch its lifesaving product. Crowd funding allows small investors to pool their money to support organisations and new companies.

Disarmco raised almost £150K against its original £120K target and attracted 126 investors.

The Dragon Torch claims to cut through a 3mm steel sheet in 10 seconds.


Company offer to help minesweep seafront

THE Echo reported in October last year of a proposed Royal Navy plan to mine-sweep the Southend seafront.

The bomb squad has been called to approximately 300 items of ordnance Southend since 2008.

The mine-sweep would remove all unexploded bombs and detonate them in one go to save time and money on callouts.

Disarmco said it would be happy to offer assistance if approached by the MoD.

The company is developing a second product, which will assist in the disposal of munitions stockpiles.

John Reid, chief technical officer of Disarmco also developed a product for the MoD to dispose of a number of unfused, uninsulated bombs at the Shoebury ranges, left over from Falklands War and stored there.

Through Disarmco he developed a product called Low Temperature Thermite to assist the MoD which was successfully deployed.

Arpana Gandhi said: “If there is any solution we can provide for the MoD we are more than happy to talk to them.”