Volunteering has always underpinned the work of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), which is run by the profession, for the profession.
Now vet and BSAVA north-east committee volunteer Paul Spellman, and BSAVA Membership Services Manager Simon Grover, are driving ahead by giving their time as ‘Blood Bikers’ - advanced motorcyclists delivering a free, out of hours courier service for blood, human tissue and other essential medical items.
Paul Spellman is a locum vet based in Middlesbrough, and volunteers with Bloodrun EVS (www.bloodrun.co.uk). During a recent visit to the BSAVA headquarters at Woodrow House in Quedgeley, Gloucestershire, he swapped stories with Simon Grover, who is responsible for supporting volunteers at the organisation, and volunteers with Severn Freewheelers (www.severnfreewheelers.org.uk).
Paul said: “My interest in Blood Bikers was sparked by my own health problems in 2014, and out of massive respect and gratitude for the NHS which is so special, along with a friend already being involved who told me they were short of volunteers.
“There is a feeling at 3am in a hospital, doing something to help, that is hard to describe. But it is also about riding a motorbike which is an adjunct to my hobby - if you ride one you will understand.
“The NHS is special, and it may be trying to do too much but it is important to normal people and it is currently underfunded, so if Bloodrun can save it £100,000 a year then it is worthwhile.
Simon Grover thanked Lancer Scott who sponsored his new helmet, and said he jumped at the chance to get back on a bike after having children and living close to work restricted his opportunities.
“I’ve enjoyed motorcycles ever since I was 17, so I thought Blood Bikers might give me a chance to get back on a bike, and following a chance meeting I was being trained as an Advanced rider,” he said.
“It is great to give something back to the community, I’ve only done four shifts and already I’ve clocked up 2,600 miles with more than 70 calls received – you know you’re making a difference because the nurses tell you that they and the patients are so grateful, and although the allotment, exercise regime and sleep patterns have suffered, I wouldn’t change it.”
Severn Freewheelers is a registered charity funded entirely through voluntary donations, which costs £50,000 a year to run but saves the NHS in the region of £250,000 a year.
Its primary objective is to relieve sickness and protect health by transporting urgently needed blood, drugs, human tissues and other medical requirements between hospitals and blood transfusion banks, primarily but not exclusively in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and North Wiltshire. Its secondary objective is to promote safer motorcycling.
Donations to either organisation are invited to be made via BSAVA which will forward them on – 01452 726700 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org