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Highlands and Islands Blood Bikes' Black Isle-based vice-chairman is excited for the full launch of the volunteer service

By Staff Reporter

Julie Bradbury, of the Maximus Foundation, hands over £2500 to Highlands and Islands Blood Bikes.
Julie Bradbury, of the Maximus Foundation, hands over £2500 to Highlands and Islands Blood Bikes.

A VOLUNTEER-RUN service delivering urgent samples and medical supplies for NHS Highland is expected to be launched in weeks.

The charity, Highland and Islands Blood Bikes, was set up about a year ago by a group of motorbike enthusiasts with the aim of delivering a free out-of-hours service between hospitals and healthcare sites across the region, including Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

And its Black Isle-based vice-chairman has voiced his excitement about the prospect of it becoming fully operational in March.

Graham Allan was speaking after the group celebrated a £2500 grant from the Maximus Foundation UK towards the cost of one of its two motorcycles, which has has been named Maximus in a gesture of appreciation.

“We are doing a pilot scheme for six months so both parties can get a feel of what is going on and see what both can and cannot do,” he said.

“There has not been a blood bike service in the Highlands before. We are both going into new territory.

“It is an exciting and nervous time.”

Currently, NHS Highland relies on taxis or couriers to transfer test samples, urgent medical supplies and emergency medical equipment out-of-hours – incurring significant costs.

Under the new project, volunteer motorcyclists will be on standby between 6pm and 6am Monday to Friday and 6pm on Friday to 6am on Monday and will be co-ordinated by a volunteer controller.

“We can be collecting samples through the night and delivering them to the laboratory in Raigmore, which is operational 24 hours a day,” Mr Allan said.

Since the group was launched, about 100 people have registered to volunteer and so far, 12 bike riders have passed their assessments. They will use the special motorcycles, which were provided by a Blood Bikes group in Dumfries and Galloway.

Mr Allan, a maintenance engineer who lives near Culbokie on the Black Isle, said he and other members were constantly fundraising to pay back the cost of the bikes – £4000 each – and for future running costs.

Members were delighted to receive the funding from the Maximus Foundation UK, which provides grants to local charities and non-profit organisations that support disadvantaged groups – particularly those contributing to personal growth and self-sufficiency in areas of health, employment and community development.

It was handed over by foundation representative Julie Bradbury, of Inverness. Mr Allan said the other motorcycle was still waiting to be named.

Anyone wishing to be a sponsor could do so for six or 12-month periods.

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