Unsung motorcycling heroes who deliver vital blood samples to Yorkshire NHS hospitals for free in plea for support

Alan Woodhead and Vic Siswick from the Whiteknights blood bikes charity. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Alan Woodhead and Vic Siswick from the Whiteknights blood bikes charity. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
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The rapid expansion of a two-wheeled charity that delivers vital tissue and blood samples to hospitals in Yorkshire has led to an urgent call for support.

The Whiteknights Emergency Voluntary Service charity sees around 60 advanced motorcyclists volunteer their time through the night to deliver important samples outside normal NHS hours across West, South and North Yorkshire.

Alan Woodhead and Vic Siswick from the Whiteknights blood bikes charity. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Alan Woodhead and Vic Siswick from the Whiteknights blood bikes charity. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

But having taken on extra services in South Yorkshire in 2014 while doing more for White Rose hospitals due to increased demand, its running costs have doubled from £20,000 to around £40,000.

Without the charity, set up by biker Vic Siswick after he noticed a lack of sample delivery provision at night while suffering from cancer, hospital trusts may be forced to pay for private hire taxis to deliver samples out of hours.

Alan Woodhead, Whiteknights fleet manager and rider, explained that the charity would be keen to do more work in cities like Leeds as it is not short of volunteers, but needs the funds to back it up.

“The money is our Achilles heel, which is common with the other blood bike groups,” he said. “If we could sort that out it would be an ideal situation and then we can approach Leeds, Mid Yorkshire and Harrogate and say this is what we do and how we do it.”

He continued: “If we had the money we could get the riders and we could get the motorbikes – given the hospitals would enter negotiations with us. We would like to do more.”

All funds raised pay for fuel and maintenance of the charity’s seven bikes, which each do up to 20,000 miles a year at the hands of volunteers qualified in advanced motorcycling.

Despite being one of the first blood bike groups to launch in England over a decade ago, Mr Woodhead knows its work can goes unnoticed. He said: “When we explain we are an actual charity they are amazed. They just think it’s part of the NHS.”

Founder Vic, a retired cameraman and advanced motorcycling instructor, added: “If I’ve got that sample there for a consultant to say to a patient, ‘you know what, you’ve not got cancer’, it’s brilliant. Those guys save lives in hospitals and we just want to try and help them.”

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