A LIFESAVING service which is completely funded by donations saved at least 45 lives last year.

It comes as the group received a major boost of £10,000 from the proceeds of a popular Dorchester festival.

The volunteers of the Yeovil Freewheelers Blood Bikes (YFW) group work with hospitals across Dorset and south Somerset including Dorset County Hospital to provide a time critical, emergency medical motorcycle courier service free of charge to the NHS.

They deliver a variety of clinical products across the counties - including blood, platelets, samples, surgical instruments, plus donor milk - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As a way of saying thank you for the lifesaving work the team do, the Dorchester Round Table donated around £10,000 to the group from the proceeds of last year’s Dorchester Cider Festival. This money has been spent on a new motorcycle.

Members of the Round Table met blood bike volunteers at DCH to officially handover the brand new bike with Chief Nurse Jo Howarth also attending.

Dave Welsby, from the Dorchester Round Table said: “The donation is from the proceeds of last year’s cider festival which was a massive success as it always is.

"The work (of the blood bike volunteers) is important to the NHS and, on occasion, quite literally lifesaving.”

Dorset Echo: Dave WelsbyDave Welsby (Image: Hollie Carr)

The YFW is completely made up of volunteers who don’t take a penny from what they do.

Andrew Wiley, Chairman of the YFW, explained that one of the ‘time critical incidents’ that they have dealt with involved a mum in Poole Hospital.

He added: “She had just given birth and was haemorrhaging, and we had to transport blood from DCH to Poole - it actually turned out that the woman was the wife of one of our members.”

Mr Wiley said: “All of us are really keen bikers. It’s a wonderful thing to do and we love doing it, we want to be able to give something back to the NHS and the community.”

Although the group operate on behalf of the NHS, they receive no funding and have to rely on donations such as the one from the Round Table.

Overall, Mr Wiley revealed that the bikes ‘cost about £90,000 a year, which is around £50,000-£55,000 a year in maintenance, fuel and tyres’ and the rest on things like bike replacement.

Steve Barnes, a member of the YFW, explained that sometimes when they are fuelling up at a petrol station, a member of the public will kindly pay for their fuel.

Dorset Echo: Chairman of YFW Bloodbikes Andrew Wiley (Left) and Steve Barnes (Right)Chairman of YFW Bloodbikes Andrew Wiley (Left) and Steve Barnes (Right) (Image: Hollie Carr)

The bikes ‘have to be replaced once they have done around 90,000 miles,’ meaning that ‘at least two or three are changed per year.’

Jo Howarth, Chief Nurse at DCH, said: “They make a significant difference to patient care and are a vital support service for the hospital. Their ability to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week and transport vital samples is essential and highly valued.”