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Young Freewheeler takes to the road

A FROME man has become one of the youngest riders for the Freewheelers EVS Blood Bikes, a group of volunteers who transport vital NHS supplies across the region.

Riders have to be over 25 years old and hold an advanced motorcycling qualification, and Oli Allen started training as soon as he turned 25 last year. The charity operates a fleet of specially adapted motorcycles, including sirens and lights for emergency use, so that they can transport blood, pathology and microbiology specimens, patient notes, x-rays, and other medical supplies safely and promptly.

The service operates at no cost to the NHS, funded by public donation and sponsorship, and the time given by the volunteer riders. Oli has been involved with the charity for the last few years, assisting with fund raising and regular shift work taking calls from hospitals and dispatching riders. But now, he has become one of the riders himself.

Oli explained, “I love riding motorbikes, so I can’t deny that was my original attraction to joining up. It’s a great reason to be out on a bike and know you’re doing some good as well. “I went along to one of the group’s monthly meetings to see what it was all about and while I was there, one of the bikes needed to be sent out to deliver urgent milk to a premature baby, which helped me see the importance of what the charity does, and made me confident I was doing the right thing in joining up.

“On my first coordinator shift I took a call from a hospital who needed to operate on a patient within the hour but did not have a critical piece of surgical equipment. I was able to send out a bike to fetch it from another hospital, through the busy Saturday shopping traffic, without a problem.”

Now, Oli has passed his advanced motorbike test, which allows him to get out on the road himself. His shifts takes the form of a week (Monday-Thursday) from 7.00pm to 7.00am every night, or a weekend on duty from 7.00pm on a Friday evening to 7.00am the following Monday. His area covers the Royal United Hospital in Bath and all surrounding hospitals including Frome.

Oli said, “My first time out riding, I was getting ready to get back on the bike, when one of the nurses rushed out behind me just to express her gratitude for us always being there ‘running round after them’, as she put it!” You can find out more at