As a chapter we have a well-established fundraising philosophy – we believe we are fortunate to be fit, well and healthy and able to enjoy our passion – riding our motorbikes! – our fundraising activities are our way of sharing that passion with others.
Since the Chapter’s commencement we have supported a range of charities and from June 2016 we are supporting Freewheelers Emergency Vehicle Service. After two and a half successful years supporting Mencap Chepstow and Keynsham branches that led to the raising of £10,000 we began our fundraising for our new charity at our Hogs in the Hayfields Rally June 2016. Our plan is to sponsor them for the coming two to three years.
Freewheelers EVS are a registered charity founded in 1990 that delivers a service to the NHS and the wider community within a coverage area comprising Somerset, Bristol, Bath, West Wiltshire, and South Gloucestershire. Freewheelers is one of a number of groups that cover almost the entire country.
They provide a service to the NHS free of charge and is funded entirely by public donation and sponsorship. They transport blood, pathology & microbiology specimens, patient notes, X-rays, breast milk, and other medical supplies. In 2014, they made 3,648 deliveries, riding more than 120,000 miles.
Freewheelers EVS operate a fleet of motorcycles each equipped with high-visibility markings, blue lights and sirens for emergency use. If the service did not exist hospitals would be forced to use taxis or commercial couriers. Freewheelers EVS is run entirely by volunteers. All their riders hold an advanced motorcycling qualification, such as the advanced riding test by RoSPA, or IAM. They also have a team of fund raisers and telephone co-ordinators. Cover is provided week-nights and all weekend 365 days of the year.
Freewheelers’ volunteers were awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2008. This is recognised as the MBE for Volunteers.
Some of our members are actively involved as fundraisers or riders including Gerry Holmes and Dave Stockford.
They cover a wide geography as can be seen from the map on their website.
If you are interested in becoming more formally involved then go to their website to find out more about volunteering.
Some interesting statistics:
- As of 2012, the charity handles 3200 to 3600 calls per year and in 2015 covered 146,000 miles
- The top seven items carried by the ‘blood bikes’ are blood samples, other samples, medication, notes/records, other blood products, equipment and pharmacy documents.
- On 236 occasions Freewheelers EVS with neighbouring blood bike groups during 2015 that include: Devon Freewheelers, SERV OBN (Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire & Northamptonshire), SERV Wessex, Severn Freewheelers & Yeovil Freewheelers.
- In August 2015 Freewheelers EVS started working with both the Great Western Air Ambulance and the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Freewheelers EVS delivers fresh whole bloods to both organisations every night, returning any unused bloods to the Southmead Hospital blood bank, 365 days a year. The additional cost is provided free of charge to the Air Ambulances and the NHS.
What happens to the blood you donate?
If you donate blood locally you probably enjoy your cup of tea and rich tea biscuit, roll down your sleeve and leave to get on with your life and think no more of what happens to the blood other than it will be used to help someone. But the journey it takes is quite interesting, especially when it goes to the Great Western Air Ambulance
1. You donate it
2. Its divided into bags stating the ‘type’ and stored in hospital refrigerators
3. When needed its packed into special boxes to keep it chilled and the blood bike volunteers pick it up and take it to Filton airport
4. The duty crew member receives blood delivery ready for use in the next emergency situation they are called to. Being able to give blood at the scene of an incident can often be the difference between life and death.
How is the charity activity organised?
We have a Charity Co-ordinator whose responsibility is to work with the nominated charity to identify what they need funds raised for and who arranges fundraising activities to generate the money!
Our current Charity Co-ordinator is Stephanie Evans who took over this role in May 2013.
Here’s a letter from Freewheelers’ Fundraising Manager praising us for our efforts in February 2017 helping to raise money at the Bristol Classic Bike Show at the Bath & West Showground.
Our previous charity was Mencap, in Chepstow and Keynsham. Take a look here at what the Chepstow Branch have said about our support.