Blood Bike History
Blood bikes have been established in the UK for more than 40 years. In November 2007 members from Dorset Freewheelers, Freewheelers EVS, SERV and Severn Freewheelers got together in Gloucester to discuss better collaboration between the groups as a result NABB was offically formed in 2010, but prior to this the different groups cooperated with each other and assisted in the setup of new groups.
In The Beginning
It all began on April 1st, 1969 in Stevenage, when Des Gibbons established a youth community action group named Freewheelers to encourage young bikers to use their riding skills to provide a fast and reliable transport service to local hospitals. This initial group served the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, Hitchin Hospital and maternity unit and two hospitals in Bedford. They carried blood, drugs, plasma, diagnostic specimens and even human spare parts on occasions. Riders also delivered letters to doctors surgeries and collected spare breast milk from nursing mothers to take to the special care baby unit at the local maternity hospital. Unfortunately the Stevenage group, along with Albrighton Freewheelers in Shropshire, are no longer operating.
Using the Stevenage group as a model, Yeovil Freewheelers was established on December 4th, 1978 by Cecil Turner. The group, which was a youth service associated to the National Association of Youth Clubs, encouraged volunteers under 26 to increase their riding skills at the same time as delivering a valuable service to Yeovil District Hospital. Yeovil are still active today, having celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2008, but are not yet members of NABB.
Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers, also known as SERV, was established in Surrey in April 1981. Not all SERV County Groups are members of NABB and the full list of County members appear on our home page.
Freewheelers Emergency Voluntary Service was established in Weston-super-Mare in April 1990 and began operation early in 1991. The group, which has always owned and operated its own bikes, expanded to use two bikes covering the whole of Somerset and Bristol. In 2005 it added a third bike to its fleet to cover Bath and the west of Wiltshire. Over the years it has had a number of different motorcycles including a Honda CX500, Yamaha Diversion, Honda Deauville, BMW K75, Honda Pan-European ST1100 and most recently the Honda Pan-European ST1300, Yamaha FJR1300 and BMW R1200RT. In 2008, the group won The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, which is the highest award that any voluntary group can receive, equivalent in status to the MBE. NABB full member.
Dorset Freewheelers began their service in February 2007, initially covering hospitals in Bournemouth and Poole. They have recently expanded to cover the rest of Dorset and frequently make trips as far afield as Southampton and Portsmouth. Dorset Freewheelers own a Honda Pan-European ST1100 and a Honda Deauville. This group is now part of SERV.
Severn Freewheelers was established in March 2007, initially covering Cheltenham and Gloucester. Demand for their service was high resulting in a rapid expansion to cover Herefordshire, Worcestershire and North Wiltshire. In the first nine months following their launch, Severn Freewheelers volunteers took 830 calls and covered nearly 50,000 miles. Severn Freewheelers now own four BMW R1200RT bikes and a Honda ST1300; and do over 3,000 calls each year. NABB full member.
Bloodfast was established in June 2007 by John Spinks, covering Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. BloodFast is a company that does commercial courier work for the hospitals in the daytime, but uses volunteers to provide a free-of-charge service in the evenings and at weekends. Income from the commercial activities funds the free-of-charge work. BloodFast operates two motorcycles, and five cars - all equipped with blue lights and sirens. Bloodfast sadly no longer operates.
Whiteknights EVS is based in Yorkshire. It was started by recovering cancer patient Vic Siswick, who wanted to give something back to the hospitals that provided his life-saving treatment. White Knights EVS has been operational since mid-2008 and operate a fleet of four Honda Pan-European ST1100 bikes. NABB full member.
Midland Freewheelers operate their service in the West Midlands. They commenced operations on July 1st, 2010, operating from Wolverhampton. They have plans to expand to hospitals in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. NABB full member.
In early 2010, Daniel Lavery started the process of forming a new group to cover Devon. Devon Freewheelers are not members of NABB.
ScotsERVS is the first of the new blood bike groups to go live following the immensely popular broadcast of a feature on blood bikes as part of the Channel 5 TV series "Emergency Bikers". This lead to a huge boost to the public's interest in blood bikes and launched several embryonic groups. ScotsERVS went live in November 2011, and cover all of Main land Scotland.