Blood bike service needs your help for its Oban hub

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Highland and Islands Blood Bikes, a charity which couriers vital medical supplies and samples free of charge for the NHS, is hoping to find more volunteers and sponsors for its Oban and Fort William hubs.

The charity, which covered more than 158,000 miles last year, recently took delivery of two new blood bikes thanks to Inverness Common Good Fund.

It said the bikes will replace the ‘existing ageing fleet that has surpassed its normal service life and will be located in the Inverness hub of the charity’.

Highland and Islands Blood Bikes (HAIBB) became operational just before the pandemic struck, and were loaned a couple of blood bikes, which it eventually purchased, and used volunteers’ own bikes and cars. It has since raised funds to establish a fleet based in Inverness, Wick, Fort William and Oban. It also operates a van which is used for fundraising events and for the occasions when a motorcycle is not suitable, for instance in bad weather.

Ross Sharp, president of HAIBB, said: ‘We are a 100 per cent free and 100 per cent volunteered charity, relying entirely on donations and people stepping forward to help their community. These new bikes will play a huge part in allowing us to carry on with our service.’

HAIBB is part of a UK-wide network of Blood Bike Charities, all operated entirely on a voluntary basis. It was initially expected that HAIBB would provide an out-of-hours service at weekends and evenings when NHS transport may not be available. During the pandemic it has been working up to 14 hours a day delivering samples and materials and its volunteers have given more than 7,000 hours of their time.

Mr Sharp added: ‘When you see a blood bike out on the road, that bike is being ridden by someone giving up their time. It’s likely to be carrying a sample which needs testing as soon as possible, to determine the right treatment for the person who needs it. That person could be you or a nearest and dearest.

‘HAIBB enable the test to be carried out sooner, which means the treatment happens sooner and hopefully that helps that person in need.

‘Our riders will always be identified by their distinctive BLOOD vests and the bikes will also carry distinctive UN3373 BLOOD boxes on them. If you see our riders out doing their bit please give them a wave and give them some space, especially with winter riding conditions approaching.’

Mark McGinty, chairman of HAIBB, said: ‘We have various roles, from rider/driver, controller, to behind the scenes roles such as communications officer.

‘HAIBB is also keen to engage with organisations and businesses who would be willing to donate/sponsor what we do in Oban and Fort William. This could include premises, fleet vehicles, rider wear, fuel contributions or a general donation. Please get in touch if you feel you can help.’

Further information, including how to become a volunteer, make a donation or becoming a sponsor, can be found at www.haibloodbikes.co.uk.

NO_T49_Two new blood bikes_01_Inverness Deputy Provost Bet McCallister and Ross Sharp, President of HAIBB

Caption: Inverness Deputy Provost Bet McCallister and Ross Sharp, President of HAIBB, with the two new blood bikes.