Yeovil blood bikers plead for extra funding to keep 'underrated' service on the road during pandemic

The Yeovil Freewheelers have been busy during the Covid pandemic, delivering medical supplies and test samples as well as blood Credit: ITV News West Country

A group of volunteer motorbike riders, who deliver vital medical supplies and Covid test samples, have pleaded for extra fundraising to keep them going during the pandemic.

The Yeovil Freewheelers is the oldest surviving blood bike group in the country and relies on donations to keep going. The charity serves hospitals in South Somerset and Dorset.

They are a familiar sight on the West Country’s roads, but it’s not just blood that the bikers deliver.

Their role during the pandemic has become even more vital with breast milk, medication and Covid tests being moved across the region.

The charity is supported by an army of volunteer riders who make key deliveries across Dorset and Somerset Credit: ITV News West Country

For the volunteers, there’s a real pride in the work they do. Mikayla Harrington is one of them and said: "It’s a really nice thing to know that we’re making a difference.

"We do get a lot of feedback from the hospitals saying thank you for what we do, especially over the Christmas period we did."

Dan Wright is another volunteer blood biker. He said: "It’s very, very busy and also quite breathtaking because it makes you realise how much of an impact what we do affects the hospitals and the patients."

The bikers estimate they save the NHS around £200,000 a year.

But they, too, are in need of money during this crucial time.

Volunteers Dan and Mikayla say the service the charity provides has been vital during the pandemic Credit: ITV News West Country

Mikayla said: "To keep our bikes going it costs about £90, on average, a day. That’s probably going to go up a little bit at the moment because we are actually doing more runs for the Covid runs.

"To fund that we do rely very heavily on all the general public to offer us donations of money. We don’t get any help from anywhere else.

It’s just nice to give something back to the community and the hospitals for all their great work.

Dan Wright, Yeovil Freewheelers

Dan said: "I think it’s a very important role. It’s a very underrated role as well.

"Many people think that we’re paid by the NHS and we’re employed by the NHS and the funding comes from the government but we are 100% volunteers.

"We do this purely out of the goodness of our hearts. It’s just nice to give something back to the community and the hospitals for all their great work."

Whatever the weather, the riders provide a 24/7 service all year round. They are some of the many unsung heroes who have kept the NHS moving during the hardest year in living memory.