About us

Helipads For Hospitals is a UK charity founded by former RAF and Air Ambulance helicopter pilot John Nowell.

It is registered (# 1177218) with the Charity Commission, whose relevant page can be visited here

The aim is to collect about 80 tonnes of unwanted aluminium (i. e. saucepans and drinks cans) and to use the raw material to form an alloy strong enough to build a helipad on site at hospitals.

The first priority is Leicester Royal Infirmary, where Air Ambulance helicopters currently have to land on Nelson Mandela Park so the patients — often critically ill —have to be transferred to road ambulances and driven to the Accident and Emergency Department, about ¾ of a mile away.

The route the wheeled ambulances have to take around the Tigers ground in Welford Road

Even when traffic is light, and drivers are considerate, this added distance can add minutes to a journey when speed is vital.

So, by recycling aluminium, H4H will reduce the need to mine bauxite for aluminium. It takes 20 times as much energy to make an aluminium can as it does to recycle one, so we will save energy. By picking up litter, including cans, we are helping to save our environment, too.

And who knows how many lives we might save?

How we calculate what we need

The two questions we are most often asked are: “How many cans do we need? How many cans have been collected?”

So it was a red letter day when our first articulated lorry trailer full of aluminium was delivered to a smelting company and for the first time we were able to measure accurately the contents of that lorry – 2.680 metric tonnes.

You can read about that here… https://helipadsforhospitals.org.uk/news/one-milestone-passed-now-for-the-next/

Charity founder John Nowell, who has been in discussions with Leicester Royal Infirmary and helipads designers/builders, estimates that we will need about 80 metric tonnes of aluminium.

Since that delivery we have been slaving over our calculators and have now revised our best-guess estimations we had used before. But even now it is not possible to answer either question with absolute precision.

In addition to cans, we have been given aluminium door frames, an ironing board, heavy aluminium pots and pans and even some crutches. So it is more important for us to count in terms of weight rather than number of cans we need.

Phil (on the left of the front row) and
Geoff (on the left of the back row)
helped us calculate how many cans we need

We have been helped by retired accountant Phil Marriott, of the Rotary Club of Shepshed, and Geoff Walker, of the South Leicestershire Litter Wombles, who before retirement has been involved with installing a number of machines and in visiting a variety of canning plants in the UK and overseas, helping with equipment improvements used in producing canning tooling. They have come up with a much more accurate estimation of how many cans will be needed.

Geoff has test-weighed hundreds of cans, large and small. He has used 14 grammes as the best-guess average weight of an average donated can.

Here’s Geoff and Phil’s workings: “An aluminium soft drink can is approx 13 gms and a beer can is approx 16gms… As we get an unknown ratio of beer to cola… we suggest an average can weight of 14gms to keep it constant. So 1 tonne = 1000 x 1000 = 1,000,000 /14 is 71,428 cans. If we need 80 tonnes that’s 5,714,285 cans.”So our revised target is 5.7 million cans – Approximately!

So the approximate number of cans taken in that first lorry load to the smelting company is 191,000.

The target might seem beyond reach, but consider this: Every year in the UK, 16.2 billion cans are emptied. BILLION! Only about 2.5 billion are recycled. For more, check out this website

Helipads For Hospitals founder John Nowell says: “We thank Phil and Geoff for all their computational excellence and efforts. But most of all we thank all those Wombles and others who pick up unsightly and harmful litter, and all those environmentally-responsible consumers who let us have drinks cans towards our aim of saving lives… and the environment.

“Helipads For Hospitals is growing very rapidly and we would love to hear from anyone who wants to help in any way, particularly in driving around their locality collecting aluminium.”



Last edited: 24:00, 03.09.2020

3 thoughts on “About us”

  1. I used to take my cans to Allington near Grantham but that is now closed. Is there anywhere in Notts to take them now please?

    1. Hi Anthea
      Thanks for supporting Helipads For Hospitals by collecting cans.

      Please have a look on our Home page where you will find all the donation points.If you cannot find one that suits you, please e-mail helipads4hospitals@gmail.com giving us your full street address with postcode and your phone number.

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