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Donating Scrap Metal in Exchange for Funding towards Cancer Patients

Copper for Cancer is a new initiative which aims to donate scrap metal in exchange for funding towards cancer patients. Tommy Hughes, a plumber from Dooradoyle in Co. Limerick, was drawn to creating an innovative way of raising funds due to the deaths of loved ones as a result of cancer.

Speaking to the Council Journal, Mr Hughes said:

“My wife died of cancer, she will be three years dead in February. My father died of it twenty five years ago. There isn’t anybody in the country that it hasn’t touched and my idea is, we’re not asking anyone for any money, copper, brass, everything is out there, I’m just trying to redirect it to the right people.

“A lot of it is thrown out in the bin, plumbers clear out their vans and clear out their cars. They try throw them out in the bin rather than putting them somewhere that’s going to be for a good cause.

“I’m not looking for money, not looking for direct debits, just your rubbish, more or less.”

Tommy’s wife used the Irish Cancer Society’s Night Nursing service, and was cared for in the family home by a Cancer Nurse at the end of her life.

It was only this year that Mr Hughes came up with the idea of asking plumbers to donate some of their old taps and mixers to raise funds to support the work of the Irish Cancer Society, to ensure other families affected by cancer have access to the same information, care and support that he and his family received.

On how the initiative all started and approaching the Irish Cancer Society Mr Hughes said:

“I was cleaning up my shed about eight months ago and I was throwing a bit of copper into a bag and I was thinking it would be handy if you could sell copper for cancer. It struck a tone with me so the next day I rang up the Irish Cancer Society and I said to them I had an idea about collecting copper and brass
for cancer, and putting bags into all the suppliers, all the plumbing suppliers in Limerick and the building suppliers, and then moving to Munster and to the rest of Ireland.

“So they got me registered online and we got to work after that. I approached all the suppliers in Limerick and 99% of them said yes, they would be interested. I spoke to plumbers and they said they’d be interested.”

Mr Hughes praises the work of the Irish Cancer Society and is calling on plumbers in Limerick and the wider Munster area to donate some scrap metal on a weekly/monthly basis.

According to research, Tommy has calculated there are around 4,000 plumbers across Ireland. He believes if enough people donate and Copper for Cancer is done right, €1 million per year could be raised for cancer.

Mr Hughes explained:

“I would say there are about 4,000 plumbers in Ireland, just from a couple of people I’ve been talking to. The Heating & Plumbing Association of Ireland based in Cork have about 3,900 plumbers registered with them. I have a friend here in Limerick who commissions, he looks after flu analysers which most plumbers would have for servicing oil and gas boilers and he has about 3,000 plumbers in his books. So I’d say there are about 4,000 plumbers.

“If half of the plumbers in Ireland gave one basin tap per week it would amount to circa €120,000 per year. If a quarter of all plumbers gave one bath or sink mixer per week it would amount to around €270,000, and if a quarter gave one indirect cylinder per month it would raise circa €360,000.

“I think, realistically, you could look at €1 million a year if it was done right. They would be looking after people being informed and telling people how much has been collected.”

If the initiative is successful, he hopes to expand it throughout Munster and eventually nationwide. All money raised from the sale of the items will go directly to funding the Irish Cancer Society’s supports for people with cancer.

Mr Hughes added:

“At the moment I have a plumber in Galway, I have a plumber in Cork and a plumber in Waterford who will do what I’m doing in Limerick, go around to the local suppliers and ask them about it once they get the go ahead from the Irish Cancer Society. After that, it will be up to people to get in touch with the Irish
Cancer Society and say they’re willing to do it in this part of the country.”

An alliance has been made between Tommy and United Metals, a scrap metal collection company, who have offered to collect any materials that local plumbers wish to donate for free, while Troy Packaging are supplying collection bags at cost price.

Tommy said he would also welcome donations of scrap metal from bigger contractors, factories, recycling centres etc, and Limerick University Hospital have already signed up.

Mr Hughes said a person can donate by approaching their local plumbing supplier or builders provider. There will be a bag either in the yard or outside the door that will have Copper for Cancer on it. Stickers will be included on every door in order to tell people this is a centre they can drop off scrap metal.

Collection points are based at various locations in Munster including: Heat Merchants in Limerick, Ennis, and Nenagh, McMahons Builders Providers, Dock Road, Limerick, Ger Malones, Garryowen, A & R Supplies, Pennywell Road, Heiton Buckleys Builders Providers, Ballysimon, T.P. Heating, Dock Road, Pat Nash, Mungret, Tadhg O’Connor in Rathkeale and Newcastlewest and 20 Co Op Superstores around Munster.

Mr Hughes is asking all the local councils across the country to get involved in Copper for Cancer. He hopes to expand his initiative to Dublin where a large number of plumbers are based.

He concludes:

“I’d like to ask that all the local councils, across the country, get in touch with their local scrap dealers or local plumbers who they have working with them. Every council has a contractor working for them.

“Hopefully it will snowball from there. I used to work for the council in Limerick myself and they do have a lot of work. It would be a big thing to get Dublin involved. That would be the biggest place for more plumbers than anywhere else in the country.

“It will be advertised on the Heating & Plumbing Association of Ireland’s website to get people involved.”

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