As Britain’s busiest blood bike service, we are celebrating 100,000 mercy missions – covering more than 1.5 million miles (to the moon and back three times) and saving the NHS more than £5.5 million over the last nine and a half years. North West Blood Bikes, which covers Lancashire and South Lake District, marked the milestone with a routine mission.
“It was just another trip as far as we were concerned,” said NWBB Chairman John Garnett, “but it’s always rewarding to know that your efforts have helped someone somewhere. When it comes to job satisfaction this role takes some beating.” “We would like to thank all our members (past and present), all our sponsors and people who have donated money to us to enable us to carry out this mammoth achievement. We couldn’t have managed it without you all. Thank you.”
This calm professionalism typifies the attitude of NWBB’s 299 riders, 21 controllers, fundraisers and other members, all of whom are volunteers – giving up their time to courier urgent items between hospitals across the region, often with help from other Blood Bike groups, across the UK. These could be blood, platelets, samples, donor breast milk, patient notes or theatre equipment – in fact anything that can be carried by motorcycle.
Maria Burn, Pre-Analytic Manager Pathology at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals was there at the outset. “When two guys walked in and spelled out how they wanted to help it was hard to fathom how something we had paid so much for, over so many years, might now be done for nothing. “But that is exactly what happened. Other hospitals were a little sceptical too, but when I explained how it had helped us they quickly got on board with it,” she said. “The blood bikers are just phenomenal. There is a real difference between this charity and some others as there are no paid members of staff at all.” NWBB riders take the various challenges that can be thrown at them in their stride, but they couldn’t do it without the Controllers covering their backs and the support of both fundraisers and sponsors – especially during the recent Pandemic.
NWBB spokesperson said: “We’re pretty sure that no other blood bikes group in the country can match us in terms of the number of trips we’ve made since our formation in May 2012. Our riders can be seen on the road every night of the year using their own bikes or our Marked Bikes – in the sun, rain, hail or snow – anywhere between Kendal in the north and Ormskirk in the south.
“Why do we do it? Well, during our lives, many of us have either had help from hospitals – personally or within our own families – or we simply want to help. Riders love motorcycling so why not combine it with helping the NHS?
“But, as with the NHS, the demands on our service continue to grow. We always need more people to join our dedicated team to ensure that we can continue to support our hospitals in the future.”
Can You Help?
NWBB wants to hear from any motorcycle riders willing to do a minimum of two shifts per month and with at least 12 months’ fully licensed motorcycle riding experience.
Many riders start by using their own bikes but are encouraged to become Advanced riders – and qualifying to ride the liveried, dedicated blood bikes that are a familiar sight on the region’s roads.
Or if you are not a rider, maybe you could help as a Controller answering calls at home and dispatching riders?
The group also requires fundraisers to help keep NWBB riders on the road.
If you can help, please go to their Volunteer page.