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North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Company Director Ride on Time


May 2, 2017

George Young, a director of digital office equipment company SOS Group Ltd, is combining his passion for motorbikes and charity by volunteering as a rider for Northumbria Blood Bikes.

The charity transports blood, plasma, platelets, samples, vaccines and other urgently required medical items for North East hospitals.

Motorbikes have advantages when it comes to transporting time sensitive items because they can often move more freely than cars in traffic.  This makes journey times generally quicker and more predictable than in cars or vans.

The service is completely free of charge, on call 365 days a year and gives most of its support at night.

George has 35 years experience riding motorbikes and took his advanced test 15 years ago.

After blood handling training and an advanced assessment ride he became a qualified Blood Biker in December and has now undertaken 10 shifts.

George says: “Essentially I help collect and deliver blood or other important medical supplies to and from hospitals in the region.

“My family has received fantastic care through the NHS and this is something I can do in return.

“You do feel the responsibility when you’re riding.  You know you need to get wherever you’re going safely and quickly because of the package you’re carrying.  It’s important.

“I’ve been told there would be no daily blood on board the Great North Air Ambulance without Blood Bikes.  And that’s something that’s helped save lives.  I’m very proud to be involved.

“I’m on call a minimum of twice a month to do 12 hour Blood Bike shifts from 7am until 7pm or vice versa.

“The long shifts can be difficult to fit in around work but my SOS Group colleagues are extremely supportive and feedback from clients is been very positive, too.

“My next challenge will be to become blue light trained so I can deliver emergency items should they be required.”

SOS Group Ltd launched in 2002 to supply digital office equipment, related software and support.  It is based on the Team Valley and with an additional office in Bristol and services ‘blue chip’ clients nationally and, increasingly, internationally. 

Northumbria Blood Bikes is part of the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes and was established by local volunteers in 2012 and currently has 469 volunteer motorbike riders and car drivers.

Kirsty Lawrence from Northumbria Blood Bikes says: “Without the dedication of our unpaid volunteers, support from donors and the public we would not be able to operate our service.

“The majority of what we do is unseen and each job we complete could potentially contribute to saving someone’s life.

“In the short length of time that we’ve been operational we are proud of the milestones we have hit and to date we have carried out over 15,000 jobs for the NHS covering over 260,000 miles.”

Northumbria Blood Bikes’ volunteers don’t ride their own bikes.  The charity operates a fleet of ten liveried tourer type motorcycles, which are designed to be ridden for extended periods and distances, offer some protection from the worst of the weather and have reasonable luggage capacity.

All the bikes have full high visibility markings in order to ensure they can be easily identified as Blood Bikes and to help riders and their cargo remain visible and safe.

Blood and blood products such as platelets are packed inside special insulated boxes and these are then secured to a special rack on the bike. The boxes are designed to maintain the temperature of the load during transportation.

Blood bikes also have panniers where samples can be transported along with non-temperature sensitive items such as instruments or documentation.  When the temperature is too cold, a blood car will be used.

Northumbria Blood Bikes currently cover hospitals and blood banks in Newcastle, Ashington, Whitley Bay, Gateshead, Hexham, South Shields, Washington, Sunderland, Durham, Bishop Auckland and Darlington.  It also covers all NHS Acute Trusts in the North East and the daily blood supply to the Great North Air Ambulance.

Most journeys are usually between North East hospitals and the central Blood Bank in Newcastle. However, the service also goes further when required to transfer items across the country.

For longer journeys, for example to deliver samples to London or Manchester for analysis, Northumbria Blood Bikes usually liaise with Blood Bike groups in other areas to quickly relay the cargo to where it is needed.

All riders are required to have held a full motorcycle licence for at least two years, be over 25-years-old and also hold a recognised advanced riding qualification.

George Young is also a member of the Widows Sons Masonic Bikers Association, which has made donations of £420 and £500 to Northumbria Blood Bikes in the past two months.

For more information about Northumbria Blood Bikes, or to donate to the charity, please visit: www.northumbriabloodbikes.org.uk

As well as supporting George as a Blood Biker rider, SOS Group is the key sponsor for charity fundraiser Mark ‘Run Geordie Run’ Allison as he continues his Around the World running challenge.

The company has a longstanding tradition of community engagement and local charity support.

In September, SOS Group won a prestigious North East Charity Award, Outstanding Charity Support, beating off stiff competition from companies such as Darlington Building Society and Potts Printers.

By Emily