When it comes to motorcycle groups there are those who feature more prominently in mainstream media, such as the Harley-Davidson fanatics and the classic bike lovers, yet there is one group who quietly go about their business saving lives – Blood Bikers.
A group of riders who take care of their community and who remain unsung lifesavers. The longstanding charity is an out of hours courier service for the NHS, delivering vital blood and medical supplies to hospitals to help keep patients alive, free of charge.
There are several branches of Blood Bikers up and down the country made up of volunteers who give up their own time for the benefit of their communities.
Among them includes the Severn Freewheelers (SFW) branch in Manchester, which deploys three motorcycles on the road every night of the year, including bank holidays and weekends and currently make in the region of 400-500 drop-offs per month.
Ian Stockwell, the Rota Manager for Severn Freewheelers, joined the charity as a rider as a way of helping those with health issues.
“It’s a way of giving something back to the community and to the NHS,” Stockwell said.
“My elder son had leukemia when he was only two-and-a-half years old. He had huge amounts of treatment, very costly treatment at that point and it’s a way of giving something back.”
While most riders have personal reasons as to why they become a Blood Biker, Training and Event Manager for SFW, Ltd Cmd RN Joe Logan, revealed he had no personal connection to the charity, but believes their work can help change the way motorists view motorcyclists.
Logan explained: “I first looked at becoming a Blood Biker about 20 years ago. Unfortunately at that time with life I was too busy with work and didn’t have the free time to commit to it and it’s only fairly recently I’ve managed to do it.
“I am probably one of the few people who doesn’t have any personal connections or reasons for doing it, other than wanting to give something back to the community and to perhaps change the face of bikers.
“In the fact that we’re not the stereotypes that some people think we are and we can use our skills as advanced motorcyclists for the good of the community.”
While the riders are on the roads every night of the year quietly delivering supplies to save countless lives, there are those who contribute in their own special way, who don’t ride a motorcycle.
Debbie Cottam is part of the charity’s events team for the Manchester branch and plays a vital role in helping to raise the money needed to keep the bikes on the road.
She said: “I don’t ride, I don’t coordinate, but I’m one of the team that help with organising events to raise money to keep the bikes on the road.
“It costs us a lot of money to keep the bikes on the road, not just the upkeep, but for the fuel too.
“We organise a lot of events, not just for fundraising, but to increase awareness to the general public of a service we provide free of charge to the NHS from 7pm-7am every weeknight and 24/7 on bank holidays and weekends.”
But no matter what an individual’s role is within the organisation Paul Fairbank, one of the leaders, reiterates it’s about working as a team to overcome the obstacles they face on a daily basis.
“Once you’re a Blood Biker, you’re in our family,” he said, “because what we do is a bit risky, riding in all weathers, we have to look after each other.
“So people can be assured that if you’re out on a call, you know there is a huge backup and if you have a problem we can resolve it together.”
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