YFW Blood Bikes (Charity 299434)
Blood Bike Volunteers since 1978
Freewheelers Emergency Voluntary Service (Yeovil), known as “YFW – Dorset” and “Yeovil Freewheelers”, is a group of emergency volunteer bikers operating out of Dorchester, Wincanton and Yeovil Hospitals. The demand for our services is still growing after 40 years supporting the NHS. We are the oldest surviving blood bike group in the country, the two older groups having been forced to close through lack of funds some time ago. Last year we made over 1,800 out-of-hours deliveries, carrying blood, platelets, blood and tissue samples, medication, breast milk, documents, CT scans and equipment to hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes as well as private addresses across much of Somerset and all of Dorset, saving the NHS well over £200,000 while easing patients’ suffering and helping to save lives.
We have never had financial support from national or local government nor from the hospitals that task us, neither do we charge for any services. All our members are volunteers receiving no remuneration or expenses at all. We operate all year round, riding in all weathers whenever we are needed, 24hrs a day, entirely free of charge. Some of the group are retired but many leave work at the end of the afternoon and ride for the hospitals late into the night. Increasingly, our retired and shift working members are called on to make emergency runs during the day to fetch a rare medicine, take a sample to a specialist laboratory for analysis or deliver equipment to an operating theatre.
All our riders are qualified to IAM or RoSPA advanced standards and every rider is re-assessed to that standard annually. All riders are police checked, have passed NHS induction and are trained to NHS delivery standards for blood, pathology samples and pharmaceuticals.
Fund-raising by the group is always a challenge but over the last 40 years individual members of the local community, as well as local businesses, have been incredibly generous with their donations, clearly demonstrating how they value the service and are willing to contribute to keeping it going. We run six bikes, each costing £5,000 to fuel and maintain each year. Since the NHS has come to rely on us, it is essential that our fundraising keeps pace with their demands.
Our current drive, in our 40th year, is to also raise the funds to replace our oldest bike, the Honda Deauville currently serving Dorset County Hospital. This will require about £15,000.