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The birth of Blood Bikes

Like many great ideas! – the notion of creating a blood bikes service for Greater Manchester and beyond was first hatched when a few likeminded friends from a local Motorcycle Club watched the Honda advert on television, telling the story of a blood bike volunteer rider over the Christmas period in 2011.

A few of us were chatting and thought it would be great to volunteer as blood bike riders.  So we got on the internet to look for a local group at which point realisation dawned: whilst there were charities covering other parts of the UK there was a gaping hole where a group covering Greater Manchester should have been.

This was, I guess, our “eureka” moment and so we had a chat with John Stepney, then head of development at, (and now chair of), the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes. He was a great help, providing us with plenty of advice and support as well as putting us in touch with three other bikers from the North West who’d been thinking along the same lines. We met up and quickly realised that to be effective rather than having one group for the North West it made more sense to split the region so that three separate groups covered Merseyside, Lancashire and the Lakes and us in Greater Manchester.

Things were starting to take shape

By January 2012 NWBBM was registered as a charity and we set about with determination to turn our idea into life-saving practice. Armed with enthusiasm but no experience of running such an operation we were on a steep learning curve. The NABB were among many who offered invaluable support, not least with the paperwork and procedures which must underpin a charity like ours.

Tameside Hospital, the first hospital we approached with our plans were also a huge help, they assisted us to trial our service undertaking test runs with hi-tech monitoring equipment, so we could prove that our safe system of transportation would pass all scrutiny. Geoff Lavelle, the Deputy Diagnostics Manager, along with his team at Tameside Pathology have been wonderful offering assistance and support wherever possible.

Of course the other thing we needed was bikes. Pretty fundamental that! Help was on hand, firstly through the David Schofield Foundation Trust, a charity set up in memory of a young man tragically killed in a road accident after a street robbery. The DSFT funded our first bike which we christened Schoey21. Next up were Carole Nash who funded the vital second bike we needed to get going and provided us with all important insurance cover and servicing of our motorcycles.

With a back up 4×4 vehicle in place we were now ready to roll and made our very first emergency run in July, carrying Urgent Blood from NHSBT Manchester to Tameside Hospital’s Pathology Laboratory.

Now with 30+ volunteers, including 19 riders/drivers, we’re geared up to deliver blood, breast milk and other emergency medical supplies to and from surgeries, neonatal units and hospitals across Greater Manchester and as far afield as the Countess of Chester Hospital. Among those we are proud to serve, totally without charge, are St. Anne’s HospiceSalford Royal NHS Foundation TrustUniversity Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

Despite our rapid and firm establishment as a money and potentially life-saving resource to assist NHS professionals, we cannot take our existence for granted. That’s why as well as committing our volunteers to providing emergency out of hours delivery services, we also work ceaselessly to raise money to support our work. That’s because just to operate at our existing capacity we need around £36,000.

This means you’ll often find our volunteers and supporters out and about explaining our mission and rattling tins in supermarket car parks and shows. A few hardy souls have also undertaken charity challenges in aid of NWBBM, such as completing the Great North Swim or putting their name down for crossing the Manchester Ship Canal on a zipwire in the coming months.

Fundraising is just as important to NWBBM as the service we provide to the NHS because without money we can’t do anything. That’s why we’re grateful to Carole Nash for adopting NWBBM as the company’s Charity of the Year and to the very many individuals who give what they can, when they can, in support of what is such a worthwhile cause.

For more details on how to donate online, offline or in person to North West Blood Bikes Manchester just click here.

 

To follow NWBBM on Twitter click here.

To like NWBBM on Facebook click here.

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