I work during the day as an IT Technician at a busy Secondary School in Plymouth, Devon. I've always been into bikes and one evening when I was watching the Television I saw the Honda advert which has brought so many people into Blood Bike groups across the country. As an experienced biker, I wanted to give something back to the community - as well as advancing my riding skills. So in early January I joined DFW. After my paperwork was sorted out and I'd had my a check ride with Neil, my area co-ordinator, I was ready to go.
On the 23rd January I got my first callout - Carrying medication from Derriford Hospital to a Patient in Plymouth. It was a cold and damp night but my BMW F650GS Dakar was ideal for the job. The feeling that I got from getting out there was unlike anything I've ever felt. I was filled with pride in the knowledge that I was making a difference. Helping someone to get better by delivering them medication that they would otherwise have not had access to. That was it, I was hooked.
Over the following 12 months I delivered 16 consignments of biological samples, 91 packs of medication and numerous other jobs which, by the 31st December, numbered 124 callouts and more than 3500 miles on the road.
As the summer drew to a close, I felt that I could offer more than just my riding to the charity. So, I enlisted as a call handler too. As Sue, our call handling co-ordinator always says, the call handler always feels an almost maternal instinct to look after the riders on their shift. I know exactly what she means! I always ask my riders to text me at every point of their journey to let me know that they are OK (I'll thank all of them for doing this later on in the article!).
In September I took over the running of the Members' Forum and Website for the Devon Freewheelers as well as becoming a deputy Director for the charity. No mean feat, but a very rewarding experience all the same. With this addition to my role, DFW is becoming an ever increasing part of my life!
Throughout the year I attended loads of fundraising events and gave talks to groups of local people to raise awareness of who we are and what we do. The support that we've had from the public through donations and fund raising has been truly humbling. We couldn't carry on doing the good that we do without this support and I am personally thankful for every penny that comes our way.
My final callout of 2012 came early in the evening on the 31st of December. The weather during the day had been blustery and wet but the clouds broke just as I left my garage to ride in to Derriford Hospital to pick up some medication to deliver to Launceston in Cornwall. A great way to round off a year which as truly changed my life.
As I close, I must thank a few people without whom I couldn't have ridden this year:
- Firstly, the public for all of their help to keep us going every day of the year - We are entirely donation funded and every penny really does count.
- Secondly, my partner Hollie. She lets me go out any time of the day or night and give up my time with no complaint or grumble - and always has a cuppa waiting for me when I get back. Support from family members is absolutely key when volunteering for something like this!
- Last, but by no means least, I must than all of the other DFW volunteers for everything that they do. Be it handling calls, fundraising, riding or providing moral support. Every member brings something a little different along to the group and everybody is appreciated more than they know. A special word of thanks to the riders for putting up with my insistence on letting me know where they are. As any Blood Bike call handler will know, it's not easy to sleep when you don't know that everybody is home safely!
So, into 2013.. I wonder what this year will bring...
Ride safe everybody!