A delivery service which takes pride in making a real critical difference

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Sometimes even the fastest four-wheel vehicle is left stranded like a beached whale - as a nippy motorbike takes over and saves crucial minutes.

We’re talking about Blood Bikes, a phenomenon few in Falkirk district may have heard of until now, but which with luck may be able to operate here at some point in the fairly near future.

Their volunteers take packages - it could be samples, or medication, even documents - from one location to another, for example from a surgery to a patient’s home.

They do so safely but quickly and efficiently, and remove the need to use (for example) taxis.

The charity is well established in England but has taken some time to get a solid footing in Scotland. although that is starting to change.

Blood Bikes see their recent work with NHS Lothian as a breakthrough which they hope will lead to further extensions of the service.

How about Falkirk and Forth Valley generally?

No comment at the moment, because there’s a process to go through with any health board area, and then trials have to take place.

But the charity’s spokesman makes clear that there’s every intention to cover the whole of Scotland.

Crucially, at a time when health budgets are always seen as a problem, there’s no charge for a service many would argue is literally invaluable.

As a charity it relies on the generosity of the public to fund its distinctively liveried bikes.

It would hardly be a surprise if Blood Bikes were soon to start operating in another key area of Central Scotland - and some more definite news may be available within the next couple of months.

But regardless of which area they move into next, or when, the charity is very keen to become better known in Scotland’s major centres of population.

Its volunteers raise funds in many of the time-honoured ways, and work hard to provide a reliable, friendly service.

They are people who, in tune with the founding ethos of the charity, want to “give something back” - sometimes just because they feel that way about communitarian endeavour, and perhaps often because they or a relative have benefited massively from what the NHS is able to achieve.

A spokesman for the charity says that because of the recent success of its Scottish wing it has had to add to its fleet of motorcycles, and now has eight in operation - and on current form that seems likely to expand.

It’s all a far cry from the modest but bold initiative launched by community activists in the south of England back in 1962.

The first blood bike volunteer group to be established was the Emergency Volunteer Service (EVS), formed in Surrey by Margaret Ryerson and her husband.

In 1969 the Freewheelers youth community action group formed in Stevenage, which initially served hospitals in Stevenage, Luton, Dunstable, Bedford and Hitchin.

For further information about Blood Bikes and its plans - or to find how to go about volunteering - there’s more on the charity and its aspirations at bloodbikesscotland.co.uk/