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Blood bikers: Former RAF dog handlers Martin Cadogan (left) and Ian Firth
Blood bikers: Former RAF dog handlers Martin Cadogan (left) and Ian Firth

A charity that helps ensure urgently needed blood and other vital medical supplies are delivered to Nottinghamshire hospitals out of hours is looking for more volunteers.

There are about 30 Blood Bike groups that each act as individual charities. Most also belong to the National Association of Blood Bikes.

Martin Cadogan, of Fernwood, joined the Nottinghamshire group, and his friend, Ian Firth, the Lincolnshire group.

Both are former RAF police sergeants and both served as dog handlers.

Martin said after they left the RAF they wanted to get involved with a charity.

“We are both keen motorcyclists and so the Blood Bike project seemed a perfect one to volunteer with,” he said.

Martin volunteers to be on duty from a Friday evening to Sunday, which he does every two months.

He picks up one of the liveried motorbikes from the group’s fleet that is ready to be used when he is called upon.

"It gives you a real sense of purpose."

“We are very visible and because we are on a bike we can normally get through the traffic,” said Martin.

“It gives you a real sense of purpose and you are potentially saving lives.”

The membership officer for Nottinghamshire, Mr John Devlin, said the Blood Bike idea started more than 50 years ago when a group of bikers were told how long it would take to get blood needed by a friend after an accident — and decided they could do better.
The idea spread and groups have been set up across the country.

They offer an additional service to that of NHS Blood And Transplant, which provides transportation through the day.

Mr Devlin said at evenings and weekends the service available to hospitals was more limited so sometimes taxis were used that could prove expensive.

“We aim to replace purely that expensive service and provide free cover,” said Mr Devlin.

Last year they completed 1,086 jobs and have already done 769 this year. They achieve an average call-to-collection time of 34 minutes.

Items taken include blood samples and blood stocks, platelets, microbiology, swabs and donor breast milk.

"We are ready and willing to do much more."

Mr Devlin said the trusts they worked with may still use taxis during the day and some, like Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, were only making part-use of them.

“We are ready and willing to do much more,” he said.

The Nottinghamshire group has almost 100 volunteers but wants another 20 riders to give them more flexibility.

Volunteers must be over the age of 25 and obtain a recognised advanced rider qualification.

Another ten to 15 volunteers are needed to act as controllers.

They operate from home, answering calls from hospitals and passing delivery details on to the riders.

The service survives on donations and corporate sponsorship so is also looking for volunteers to help with fundraising.

More information is available at www.nottingham shirebloodbikes.org or www.lebbs.org

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