VolunteersWeek, Our volunteers tell their story

Our CBB volunteer Stuart Hamilton joined the charity in December 2016, Stuart is an on duty coordinator, and advanced fleet bike rider.

Stuart gives his experience of his volunteering with CBB

“It’s a cold, dark, winter’s night.  Blood is needed for an operation.  Who can make that delivery?  This is the headline on a leaflet advertising Cornwall Blood Bikes.

Although it’s now Summer in Cornwall, the blood bike charity continues to support the NHS throughout the evenings and also providing 24 hour support at weekends and bank holidays.

Life in Newquay isn’t all about surfing and barbecues.  As a habitual avoider of the sea, surfing is not high on the list of activities that I enjoy; but riding motorcycles is.  As a holder of the Institute of Advanced Motorists’ advanced rider qualification, I volunteer time to Cornwall Blood Bikes as a fleet bike rider as well as volunteering as the duty co-ordinator.

It is difficult to explain what to expect during a duty period, because no two shifts are the same.  The output required entirely depends upon NHS demands.  Some periods sail by with no calls, others are the polar opposite.

One day last week I returned home from work and barely had time to shower before the first call came.  Could I ride from home in Newquay to St Austell Community Hospital and collect some urgent samples to be taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro?  After checking the BMW R1200 RT-P I duly set off, making good progress through traffic to the collection point.  The ward staff were expecting me and handed over the sample, which I then took to Truro and delivered to the Haematology department.  A short ride later and I was home, where I telephoned the duty co-ordinator to let her know where I was.

During the call, I was asked if I could undertake another run.  Could I ride to Truro and collect another urgent sample to be relayed to Derriford Hospital via another rider who I would meet at Bodmin?  I agreed and asked if I could have a quick comfort break and a cup of tea.  The details were agreed and I turned the kettle on.  Before it had boiled, the phone rang again.  The volunteer I was to meet in Bodmin had been called out on a time critical run; could I now take the sample to Derriford?

After a short break, I said goodnight to my son and wife and left for Derriford, collecting the sample from Truro on the way. The rain started when I reached the A38. Riding conditions were still OK and I was progressing well along the single carriageway road, positioning the bike appropriately to maintain forward vision.  As I rounded a corner near to Bodmin Parkway I noticed a small van stationary in the carriageway with two people at the rear.  Due to their position, the weather conditions and the failing light, I stopped to check they were ok.  It transpired that their van had lost a wheel and the jack wouldn’t fit under the vehicle.  I notified the Police and my co-ordinator and waited for Devon & Cornwall Police to arrive.

A short while later, the Police thanked me for my assistance and I returned to my ride to Plymouth.  After delivering the sample, I headed outside to the bike.  A curious patient was admiring the bike and a lengthy conversation ensued.  Needless to say this gentleman was shocked to hear that all of my efforts were completely voluntary and at no cost to the NHS.  He thanked me for my efforts and wished me a safe journey home.

Just over an hour later, I arrived at home, parked the bike in the garage and telephoned the co-ordinator to let her know I arrived home at 0130 hrs.  Not long until it was time to get up for a day in the office.”

A very big thank you to Stuart for hiving up his time to ride, coordinate and fundraise.