Watch the video and then read the full interview to get the lowdown on this vital service provided by some big-hearted bikers!
How did you get into biking?
When I was a child (ten or eleven), a family friend used to work for Crossbow Couriers in Manchester; I used to love spending the weekends there at the courier’s office and garage. The journey there and back on his Honda CX500 was the highlight, as well as helping them tinkering with the bikes.
My first bike was a Suzuki Bandit 600 but the first bike I ever “hitched” a ride on was a Moto Guzzi California up and down my mother’s street – it was totally awesome! The first bike I ever rode was a… wait for it…. Vespa!
My dream bike would be a fully kitted BMW R1200GS (and yes, I am a huge fan of “The Long Way Down/Round”).
Do you see bikers as being part of a community? What do you think draws bikers together?
The biking community in my eyes is like one big family; no matter where you are or what you’re doing, if you are on a bike, another biker will come over and talk to you. It’s the common interest that keeps the conversations going. My first recollection of the biking family helping me was when I had broken down, my clutch cable had snapped and I was basically stranded. A biker passed me and put his thumb up, gesturing to me as if to ask if I was ok, obviously I shook my head as he passed. He turned around and came back, cutting a long story short he went off and came back with a cable that fitted, and helped me get back on the road again – I didn’t even know him. That’s the pinnacle of the friendship bikers have in my eyes. From that day forward, I always make sure a biker at the side of the road is ok.
You’re a member of the Rising Moon MCC – Why did you join and what do you get out of it?
I am a co-founder and Vice Chariman of the RMMCC. My group of close friends had gotten tired of moving from club to club, then Paul came up with the idea of having our own family orientated club. From the first five members it grew to be quite a well-established club in a year or two and still is today. We hold regular events that the young and old can attend – and of course do our own Rally each year in April.
How did you, Paul and fellow bikers come to launch NWBBM?
Basically it was the Honda Advert – it was running on television and a couple of us fancied volunteering our time to help a motorcycle-based charity. After some searching it was apparent that the NW didn’t have one set up, so we decided to try it ourselves.
How difficult was it to get the ball rolling? What was the biggest challenge?
Well, let’s just dispel the myth that it’s just like pizza delivery! It isn’t – there was a huge amount of new things to learn like legislation, compliance and such. And all this was done prior to us even sitting on a bike. The biggest challenge was and still is funding; bikes, petrol, kit and admin cost money. With the help of companies we gain sponsorships where we can, with a prime example being Carole Nash – they bought us a fleet motorcycle and provided us with our fleet insurance as part of their “Charity of the Year” work which has helped immensely; I don’t think we could stay on the road without their support.
How much support and advice did you get and from where?
The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes (NABB) were outstanding, especially John Stepney, the Development officer at that time – they supplied us with the knowledge and sample procedures to support us in our infancy, and helped us at every step of the way, so much so I am now on their committee and lend my support to other new groups when I can.
Why is a blood bike service needed?
As with any charity, it’s operated to try and aid something or someone, with NWBBM we operate to try and save the NHS and other local medical establishments some money on soaring transportation costs. The NHS does have its own internal transportation services but some use taxi cabs or private couriers at a high cost out of hours. This is where we can help; we transport anything that would normally be delivered or collected by a cab or a private courier free of charge. We are still under a year old but similar charities in the southern regions have saved their local trusts up to £180,000!
How did you feel when you got your first call as a blood biker?
My first call was actually the charity’s second call overall! When I got the call I must admit my heart started thumping, but as I kitted up and got the fleet bike out the professionalism came through, you can read my story about it here. Upon completion the sense of achievement and satisfaction was overwhelming, I felt very proud.
How many hours a week do you need commit to NWBBM?
It depends, A rider’s minimum would be two nights in succession per month, but when I say two nights I do not mean the rider is on the road for 11 hours each night; they may only get one or two calls in that time totalling possibly 2-3 hours on the road, but they must be available to be on call for those nights. They can go to bed as normal too – they don’t have to be sat there kitted up staring at the phone; our response times do factor in a rider getting out of bed and getting kitted up ready to leave. Fundraisers can be as little as four hours per month supporting one of our collection days by rattling a tin, and Duty Controllers work one night per month minimum.
How many people are now involved and in what roles? Do you need more volunteers?
We have nine riders, five drivers, five duty controllers and 16 fundraisers – these roles do cross though, sometimes you’ll get a ride who helps with fundraising and so on. We also have our committee of seven people who take on the day-to-day running of the charity; from admin to training and funding. Do we need more volunteers? Yes, short and sweet, we always welcome more help. For a full list of role requirements and to apply visit our website.
What challenges lie ahead?
Expansion in line with Operation Capacity and Commitment – we want to expand and offer our services to more Trusts throughout Greater Manchester, but to do this we need more volunteers, more bikes and more funding. The one thing we said from our initial conception was “we will never tell a client we cannot do a run for them” so with this in mind, we always make sure we can promise a 100% reliable and professional service. And thanks to our volunteers, we have a 100% success rate so far!