Gloucestershire, Hereford & Worcester give the gift of life this Christmas. Blood Bikes - groups of volunteer motor cyclists who provide an out-of-hours medical essentials courier service to hospitals and other health institutions within their area - will be working as usual during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. With the timely delivery of everything from whole blood, biological samples, medical notes, X-rays, scans and human milk for very premature babies; Blood Bikes groups pride themselves on their availability, between 7pm and 7am, 24 hours at weekends and all public holidays.The service is offered free of charge to the NHS and all members are unpaid volunteers.
As Mike Wilson, a business management consultant from Gloucester says: "Christmas is often thought of as a time for enjoyment and to be with your family but illness and health issues still affect many people. Not all Blood Bike volunteers are able to give their time during this period so I put my name forward so there is no reduction in the service we offer."
Under the umbrella of the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes, there are 24 regional groups covering 95 per cent of the UK and Ireland. Some groups, such as the Yeovil Freewheelers, have been operating for more than 30 years. This year, thanks partly to the publicity gained when Blood Bikes was featured on the Channel 5 series Emergency Bikers, new groups were formed and coverage of the UK & Ireland is 95% complete.
John Beasley,who works at Morgan Cars in Malvern is a member of the Severn Freewheelers group. In 2013, this group received more than 4,000 call outs and between them the 80 volunteers covered in excess of 150,000 miles. In June 2008, the Bristol group was awarded The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service - the highest award that can be given to a voluntary group and equivalent in status to an MBE.John says: "Riding for the Severn Freewheelers is an honour and a privilege. It's a chance to use what I have trained for and the experience I have gained to make a positive contribution to someone else's life. I do it at Christmas, New Year and Bank Holidays because most of the other riders have full-time employment or family commitments. I would rather be out on a bike and if I can save a life or ease someone's suffering by doing that, what better Christmas present could I possibly give someone?"
Blood Bikes groups are always seeking new volunteers and several stepped forward when the association had a stand at this year's Motorcycle Live show at the NEC, Birmingham, recently. As a result, an even wider geographical area will be covered in 2014, extending coverage to more than 55 million people.
LexWoolford, a retired police officer from Worcester, cites additional reasons for volunteering for Blood Bikes. He says: "It's a respected local charity organisation with a national remit, administered and delivered by volunteers using professional protocols. I haven't got spare cash to donate, but I can give my time and riding skills. I like to think that what we do can make a difference to someone. It makes you feel good."
While volunteer riders are always welcome, groups also need dispatchers and general help. The regional groups' and Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes (NABB) are registered charities and rely on donations to keep up their good work. People can help with fund raising, organising a sponsored event or buying tickets to the annual Prescott Bike Festival.
The local Gloucestershire branch Severn Freewheelers organise Prescott Bike Festival which will be taking place on Sunday 6th April 2014 at Prescott Hill Climb, Gotherington, Cheltenham and promises to be an action-packed day for all the family in support of the Nationwide Association of Bloodbikes charity (NABB). The fourth annual event will be larger than ever before, with even more bike manufacturers and clubs confirmed, plus a large display of historic, modern and race bikes on display in the paddock, demo areas, passenger rides, stunt show, trade stalls, live music, good food and a host of entertainment both on and off the track to keep the whole family amused. Special guest appearances include: former three times British Superbike Champion and Bloodbike ambassador John Reynolds, MotoGP commentator Steve Parrish and motorcycle adventurer Nick Sanders. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, please visit: http://www.prescottbikefestival.co.uk
Run entirely by volunteers, NABB has over 1500 active members with a fleet of 88+ emergency response vehicles. All NABB riders are trained in the movement of medical essentials and operate from individual regional charities but with a common goal - to alleviate suffering and reduce the funding pressures on the NHS.
Severn Freewheelers is the regional Blood Bike group operating in Gloucestershire, Hereford & Worcester and North Wiltshire. Over 80 volunteers help Severn Freewheelers carry out a much-needed service. Severn Freewheelers runs three BMW R1200RTs, two Honda ST1300 and a Honda VFR1200, all are emergency response equipped and the members handle some 4,000 call outs per annum, covering 150,000 miles.
Severn Freewheelers Stats:
Call Outs: Approx 4,000/yr = 330/month = 11/day on average.
Mileage covered, 150,000/yr = 12,500/mo, each bike does 1,000/week.
How many Bloobikes are in the county: 6 of which at least 3 always in use
How many volunteers: 80 active riders, 30 fundraisers/despatchers
Cost for a bike per year: Fuel £3000, Mark down, £3000, Tyres, £800, Servicing, £600 - total cost, £7,400
Severn Freewheelers need to raise £45k per annum to continue operate.
Source: apt marketing & pr