Well I know the Hairy Bikers have been in town, but there’s another group of bikers, not so hairy, that I’ve been involved with for a while. In fact, it struck me this week that I’ve been working with the Devon Freewheelers charity for almost a year.
I first heard of the charity in 2015 when I read about the launch of the first Honiton Sausage & Cider Festival. I offered to help with PR for the event, which was being held partly to raise funds for the Devon Freewheelers.
I met with Daniel Lavery, who founded the charity, and we talked about all things motorbike. Not one of my areas of expertise, but there you go, I learn quickly. In fact, the Devon Freewheelers offer an out-of-hours courier service to the NHS free of charge. Yes, I’ll say that again, free of charge, throughout the night and for 24 hours on Saturdays, Sundays, and Bank Holidays.
They transport urgent medical supplies like blood, tissue for transplant and breast milk. They also deliver and collect patient notes when asked. If they didn’t do these things, a taxi or ambulance would be used, costing the NHS a lot of money and calling on scarce resources. I’m full of admiration for these volunteers, who include the riders, operations support and fundraisers. No-one gets paid.
Over the year I’ve written hundreds of press releases, taken photos, spoken to fundraisers, supporters and journalists, met the Wurzels (well I stood next to them backstage at the Sausage & Cider Festival), persuaded Matt Austin to take photos of one of the riders for Devon Life, shaken hands with local MP Neil Parish who has been incredibly supportive of the charity, encouraged the team to find their first patron (Mark ‘Flymo’ Hayes), negotiated radio interviews with the BBC and Heart FM and generally done what I could to help raise the profile of the Devon Freewheelers.
The riders are out every night in the dark hours, journeying carefully across Devon’s road network, often on their way to save someone’s life. They are unsung heros as the patients they help never know they’ve been there.
It’s been a fascinating year – I’ve learned so much and continue to be full of admiration for the team. And yes, a second Sausage & Cider Festival is scheduled for 2015!
And finally, there’s some exciting news to come for the Devon Freewheelers, so watch this space – the press release will have my name on it!