Bucks Advent Calendar: Friday 22 December – One of the many saving lives, NHS time and money this Christmas
Date: 22nd Dec 2017
The work doesn’t stop for emergency services over the Christmas period – but it also doesn’t cease for those who volunteers in other live-line services.
A visit to a motorcycle show moved Bucks New University’s Director of Strategic Planning and Apprenticeships Steve Dewhurst to volunteer for SERV OBN Blood Bikes.
The charity is a rapid response, transport service delivering blood, platelets, plasma, vaccines, scans, breast milk and other urgent medical items out-of-hours, free-of-charge to the NHS - across the Oxon, Bucks, Berks & Northants regions.
Blood Bikes have been around since the 1960s and receives no Government funding, relying solely on the generous donations from members of the public, corporate sponsorship and fund raising activities.
Amazing right? Saving lives and saving the NHS millions every year.
Steve, who been volunteering for the charity for three years, said: “SERV OBN had a stand at the Brackley Bike Festival and I was shocked to find out that they were a charity and 100% funded by public donations with volunteer riders and controllers.
“I realised that there is a limited pool of riders willing to do the advanced training and to commit to this. I am a school governor as well, but for me Blood Bikes is the ideal voluntary work; something that makes a direct difference and doing something that uses something that I can do – riding motorcycles.”
As well as the many, many hours of emergency transport, the 52-year-old, from Bicester, also helped the charity by doing a fundraising abseil in 2015.
Sponsorship and donations for the charity come from many sources and from the kindness of organisations, some of which have even bought vehicles. But the majority comes from the hard work and dedication of members and supporters who carry out supermarket and event collections.
So how does he fit all this in with his life?
“Scheduling it around work and family activities is a challenge,” explained Steve. “But we can book duties a couple of months in advance so I look at the available slots and book for several duties on a weekend every month or so.
“Each shift is 12-hours on call; we also keep an eye out for busy times when additional cover is needed.”
Like Christmas. The services runs 365 days a year and can be called on at any time to transport life-saving deliveries. The volunteers will be on call, using the charity’s motorcycles or 4x4s when the weather is bad, for instance when it snows.
Steve, who works an average of 36 hours a month for the service on top of his full-time position at Bucks, said: “The more duties you do, the more jumping up and disappearing off quickly becomes the norm.
“Some runs are very common, others may only happen once in a blue moon. My first-ever run brought home to me how important and rewarding it can be; a midnight run of milk from the John Radcliffe Hospital to a special care unit where the nurses were waiting at the door to use immediately for a premature baby.
“I’m sure we all have our tales of challenging runs; one I recall took eight hours at night in pouring rain with flooding, closed roads etc, through four hospitals and around 250 miles. But when you arrive back home it’s difficult not to feel that it’s all worthwhile.”
To find out more or to make a donation please visit www.justgiving.com/servobnbloodbikes