Meet the Yorkshire inventor looking to make coffee cup lids safe

Richard Wolfenden pictured with his invention called Lid Safe. Picture: Simon Hulme
Richard Wolfenden pictured with his invention called Lid Safe. Picture: Simon Hulme
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A semi-retired inventor is looking for someone to commercialise his most recent invention on a wide scale after suffering a series of health scares.

Halifax-based inventor Richard Wolfenden designed Lid Safe while he and his wife Sheri were running a coffee shop in Brighouse. The gadget helps ensure lids on disposable coffee cups are fastened securely.

Richard Wolfenden pictured with his invention called Lid Safe. Picture: Simon Hulme

Richard Wolfenden pictured with his invention called Lid Safe. Picture: Simon Hulme

Mr Wolfenden told The Yorkshire Post: “My wife said to me that I have a problem with people putting lids on takeaway coffee cups. I’m scared that people are going to scold themselves.

“Sometimes they pick them up and if they’re not on right, the lid comes off and it spills. Can you do something for me?”

The inventor was granted a patent for Lid Safe in November 2019 and is now looking for someone to either acquire it outright or come to a royalty sharing agreement.

Mr Wolfenden added: “Basically, I want someone to manufacture. I’ve always come up with ideas before and I usually end up, before I even know it, sat behind a desk, employing people.

Richard Wolfenden pictured with his invention called Lid Safe. Picture: Simon Hulme

Richard Wolfenden pictured with his invention called Lid Safe. Picture: Simon Hulme

“I’m at the age of 63 now and that’s not where I want to be with the health scares that I’ve had. I enjoy being in business and I don’t mind working but I don’t want to be tied down 24/7.

“I’m looking for somebody to actually get involved and ideally if the price was right to buy the whole thing.

“If not to do a deal whereby they look after the funding and marketing of it but it needs to be somebody that’s got the inside connections with large coffee chains.”

In 2004, Mr Wolfenden was diagnosed with skin cancer and was told he only had three to nine months to live.

Luckily it turned out that the cancer had not spread to his brain. However, doctors discovered that he had two brain tumors. Following treatment, the cancer has remained in remission since.

Mr Wolfenden says his Lid Safe invention has garnered the interest of coffee chain Starbucks. He also secured an order with Manchester United Football Club to supply its stadium with Lid Safe.

While there is a drive towards cutting down on single-use disposable coffee cups, Mr Wolfenden believes that many people still prefer them for convenience.

The inventor believes the coffee industry will need to look at recyclable coffee cups to cut down on single-use plastic waste.

He hopes that Lid Safe is not just for commercial use but also for domestic use.

Mr Wolfenden said: “Most coffee shops would want two or three. I believe it’s got mass appeal because the coffee industry is growing. You can get coffee now on every corner, in garages, in stores etc

“Eventually as more people buy fancy coffee machines for the home and make themselves coffee, people will use one of these in the home as a domestic tool as well as a commercial tool.”

Mr Wolfenden said interested parties can contact him on 07850 680 925.

Doing business with Packer

Richard Wolfenden has a background in engineering. He started off as a motor mechanic but decided to set up his own business aged just 23 in 1979 manufacturing one and two seater hang gliders.

That business, called Hornet Microlights, attracted investment from Australian tycoon Kerry Packer in 1989, who was interested in the military application of the microlights. However, the business didn’t get the military orders it envisaged and the late Kerry Packer and Mr Wolfenden wound Hornet Microlights down.

Mr Wolfenden also invented a portable aromatherapy steam tube.