Northumbria Blood Bikes, a registered charity established by local volunteers to deliver essential blood and urgent medical supplies, out of hours, between hospitals and healthcare sites in North East England, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for 2017, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and the equivalent of an MBE.
Outside normal office hours, hospitals rely on taxis or couriers to transfer urgent medical supplies or test samples between hospitals and other sites. Northumbria Blood Bikes carries out this service free of charge, ensuring the limited resources of the NHS can be used where it makes a difference. In critical situations, blood or other medical items need to be delivered urgently and the specialised Blood Bikes, with their distinctive livery, emergency lights, and narrow profile, can cut through busy traffic reaching their destination quickly. Northumbria Blood Bikes is entirely dependent on charitable donations, solely run by volunteers who give up their own free time to run and deliver the service.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Northumbria Blood Bikes will receive their award from the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland later this summer. However, as a result of the award, a founder member of the charity, Geoff Spencer, and his wife Jude, attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace where they had the chance to meet the Queen and other winners of this year’s award.
Carol Malia, Deputy Lieutenant for Northumberland and Patron of the charity, said: “Northumbria Blood Bikes are a dedicated team of tightly knit volunteers working so professionally together. Their service has already saved many lives. The bikers and drivers undergo extensive training, all in their own time, and are supported by an efficient network of other volunteers all devoting themselves to supporting emergency health care. I have personal reason to thank NBB. My friend’s son went into cardiac arrest after undiagnosed internal bleeding. At the age of 14 they found themselves at his bedside praying for his survival. He needed blood and quickly. It was a Northumbria Blood Bike that delivered the consignment which ultimately meant that Matthew has made a complete recovery.”
Heidi Mottram OBE, CEO Northumbrian Water and Patron of Northumbria Blood Bikes, said: “I'm delighted at the news that Northumbria Blood Bikes is to receive the honour of the 'Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service'. This award recognises the dedication and hard work of a group of volunteers working very much 'behind the scenes' to provide vital support and service to our NHS at times when it needs it the most. The vital work that Northumbria Blood Bikes volunteers perform, help save lives every day and I am very proud to be one of its Patrons.”
Patron of Northumbria Bikes Professor Bob Jarman, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, said: “I was over the moon when I heard that Northumbria Blood Bikes (NBB) had been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK. This is a well deserved national endorsement for the professional service that dedicated NBB volunteers deliver daily. This is for everyone that contributes to making NBB a regional treasure!”
Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner and Patron of Northumbria Blood Bikes, said: “Northumbria Blood Bikes volunteers go above and beyond to help those in need, and I am delighted that they have been recognised for their tremendous contribution and hard work. They deserve this prestigious award. Well done to all involved.”
Michael Thompson, Chair of the group, said “Northumbria Blood Bikes are absolutely thrilled to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, it is the highest accolade a local charity like ours can receive. The award recognises the value of the service we provide and it rewards the professionalism and dedication of all of our volunteers who freely give up their spare time to help others who they will probably never meet.”