You may have seen a blood bike motorcycle, which can be confused with a police motorcycle, on the road. These machines are driven by volunteers for the Welsh and Shropshire and Staffordshire Blood Bikes charity. Neil Sanders, from Kerry in Powys, is one of those superb volunteers who gives up his time to deliver essential life-saving materials for the NHS, free of charge.
Neil works in the Accident and Repair Centre at Greenhous Ford in Newtown, working as a Vehicle Body Technician and panel beater. Neil left school to train as a panel beater before entering the Army, serving with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers 3rd Battalion. He moved to Kerry in 2005 and built a barn conversion. He has been with Ford Newtown for 12 years now and has always enjoyed motorcycling, being a member of the MotoGuzzi Club and owning three bikes of his own, a Honda VT Shadow 1100cc, a MotoGuzzi Norge 1200cc and a Honda Veradera 1000cc.
Neil took his Advanced Rider qualification and is now a qualified observer. This stood him in good stead when he attended a talk about Blood Bikes which interested him and all riders have to have advanced rider status. Neil started volunteering with the Welsh Blood Bikes but has latterly moved to the Shropshire and Staffordshire Blood Bike group.
Neil says of his involvement: “It is an incredibly rewarding thing to do and be a part of. There are a great group of people involved in the delivery of boxes of blood, faecal matter transplants, bone marrow samples, boxes of platelets and donor breast milk. We answer the call from the NHS to rapidly deliver these life-saving materials to hospitals across the region. I feel privileged to be part of an essential service.”
The Shropshire and Staffordshire Blood Bikers in 2016 made almost 3,000 deliveries covering nearly 150,000 miles across Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire supporting 8 NHS Trusts, one Milk Bank and Public Health England. There are 219 volunteers who between them offered over 75,000 hours of their time! The SSBB is part of the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes.
For more information about the charity, the talks it provides and its fund-raising activities visit the website: www.ssbbgroup.org.uk