Daniel is the first Devonian resident to be honoured in this way for almost a year. The award has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful ‘Points of Light Programme’ in the USA and was first established by President George H. W. Bush. The UK Points of Light award was developed in partnership with the US programme and launched in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street back in April 2014.
Daniel has been singled-out due to the unique way in which he established the charity. Back in 2005, his wife Shelly suffered an extremely difficult and traumatic delivery while pregnant with their youngest child and was rushed to hospital whilst on a visit to Northern Ireland. It was a delivery of blood by a bike volunteer that saved both of their lives and it was this that inspired Daniel to set up Devon Freewheelers.
Once back home in Devon with a fit and healthy family, Daniel decided he had to take some kind of action when he discovered that Devon was one of the few counties that didn’t have a voluntary blood bike service. Four previous attempts had been made to start a similar service in Devon over the course of two decades and all had failed due to a lack of funding. So he sold his home and used the proceeds to fund and run the charity.
Neil Parish, Member of Parliament for Tiverton and Honiton said, “I am delighted that Daniel Lavery’s work across Devon and the West Country has been recognised with the ‘Points of Light Award’. Daniel has worked tirelessly to set up and run Devon Freewheelers and over the last five years he and his professional team of motorbike riders have saved hundreds of lives across Devon and the West Country”.
Devon Freewheelers now has a team of 50 volunteer riders across the county. Back when the charity was first established, the Freewheelers use to receive one or two jobs a week. Now, they deal with 16 calls a day on average and during the last bank holiday, they responded to over 100 calls.
The fundraising target to support this work is £150,000 a year which is essential for maintaining the fleet of 19 motorcycles, three rapid response cars and two emergency all-terrain vehicles to the highest possible standards. Devon Freewheelers are also the only charity in the country to have achieved the significant ‘working in partnership agreement’ with an NHS Ambulance Service and are recognised as ‘Co-Responders’ similar to that of the police and fire service. Working with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, bikers are trained to respond to emergencies and answer 999 calls.
Daniel says, “I am truly honoured to be given this award and to be recognised by the Prime Minster David Cameron. The Devon Freewheelers are a team of volunteers who fill me with the pride and passion I need to continually push forward with the charity’s objectives. Recognition of the lifesaving services we provide by the Prime Minister is most gracious. I often refer to Devon Freewheelers as ‘hidden heroes’, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank David Cameron for pointing his Light on us”
If you’re interested in finding out more of how the Devon Freewheelers are funded or to become a volunteer fundraiser or rider, please contact us today; we can’t do this without you. Thank you.