Blood Bikes Scotland is ready to expand into Fife

Delivering a service to the NHS...Blood Bikes Scotland is already operating successfully in NHS Borders and NHS Lothian and is now hoping to expand into Fife too.
Delivering a service to the NHS...Blood Bikes Scotland is already operating successfully in NHS Borders and NHS Lothian and is now hoping to expand into Fife too.

Watching a television programme in 2012 changed Ron Spalding’s life.

He had been looking for a chance to give something back and was considering a return to hospital radio.

Generous donation...from Scotmid has enabled a new bike to be purchased by Blood  Bikes Scotland with the aim of expanding the service into the Kingdom.

Generous donation...from Scotmid has enabled a new bike to be purchased by Blood Bikes Scotland with the aim of expanding the service into the Kingdom.

But when he saw a feature on Blood Bikes down south, the self-employed electrician and biker decided it was just the job for him.

So he contacted the National Association of Blood Bikes (NABB) to ask about volunteering in Scotland.

At that time, there were no blood bikes north of the border but Ron met with the association and, in 2012, started fundraising for a Scottish branch of the charity.

Two years later, the first blood bike went operational in the Borders. And in 2016 the charity launched its service in the Lothians.

It now has two blood bikes in the Borders and four in the Lothians.

And thanks to a £15,000 donation from Scotmid, Ron is now hoping to complete the dream – to introduce the service into Fife.

The 64-year-old explained: “When I originally founded Blood Bikes, the idea was always to cover the Borders, Lothians and Fife.

“We started small in the Borders, as an initial first step, and it really took off.

“Two years later, we moved into the Lothians.

“It took some time, knocking on a lot of doors to try to get the charity up and running but we’ve never looked back since.

“And thanks to our team in Edinburgh, we now have a contact within NHS Fife and are hoping to launch the service there before the end of the year.”

The Scotmid donation has allowed Blood Bikes to buy a bike specifically for Fife.

Until the service is up and running in the Kingdom, it will be based at Ron’s home across the bridge in South Queensferry.

But he hopes it won’t be long before it’s in situ in Fife.

He said: “We already have around six riders from Fife who have to come across the bridge to pick up the bikes and do shifts.

“Launching the service in Fife will enable us to base a bike there and give riders a chance to work there too.

“Our contacts in NHS Lothian have given us a contact within NHS Fife.

“Unfortunately, that person is off on holiday just now but we’ll be getting in touch soon.

“Our hope is to have Blood Bikes up and running in Fife by the start of the new year.”

So what exactly will the charity provide?

Blood Bikes Scotland operates a free-of-charge medical courier service between NHS hospitals.

They can be called upon to transport anything from blood tests and medical equipment to human tissue and emergency paperwork.

In the Borders, the charity operates from 6pm to 6am each day and 24 hours a day on a Saturday and Sunday.

In the Lothians, one biker is based at the Sick Kids Hospital from 5pm to 7pm Monday to Friday, running between there and the laboratories at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

Other bikes are called upon from 4pm to 8pm on weekdays via a flow centre at the Astley Ainslie Hospital.

There are 37 hospitals in the Lothians area so riders can be despatched as far afield as St John’s Hospital in Livingston and Roodlands Hospital in East Lothian.

At the weekends, Blood Bikes also operates from 8am to 4pm in the Lothians.

The charity now has some 70 volunteers, split between riders and controllers who direct traffic – all of whom give their time freely.

One member of the eight-strong committee is also on duty each night in case riders or controllers need help, advice or support.

And all of the charity’s running costs – around £20,000 per year – are met by public donations, with corporate sponsorship affording new bikes.

Ron said: “We couldn’t do what we do without the generous support we receive from businesses and members of the public.

“Just this morning, I took a call from Forth Ports Authority which has raised more than £600 for us.

“We’re very grateful for every penny we receive as it allows us to continue to enjoy riding nice bikes, while doing some good too.”

Ron, who is currently Blood Bikes Scotland’s vice chairman, is delighted that it has been such a success.

He added: “It has gone better than I could have ever envisaged at the start.

“At times, it felt like I was knocking my head against a brick wall just to get the charity up and running.

“But we’re getting more to do all the time now – we’re doing our bit to help the NHS and people realise that we’re there to help.”

Blood Bikes Scotland would like to recruit additional volunteers. To find out more, visit bloodbikesscotland.co.uk.