Blood bike volunteer celebrates 1,000 shifts transporting much-needed medical goods

A Sandwell blood bike volunteer is celebrating 1,000 shifts of transporting much-needed medical goods to Midlands patients on his motorbike.

Midland Freewheelers Blood Bikes volunteer John Pearce. He turns 75 next month and has completed over 1,000 shifts for Blood Bikes
Midland Freewheelers Blood Bikes volunteer John Pearce. He turns 75 next month and has completed over 1,000 shifts for Blood Bikes

John Pearce from Tividale completed his first job for the Midland Freewheelers on Christmas Eve in 2016 and he hasn’t looked back ever since.

Mr Pearce said: “It’s given me a purpose. On your own – it’s hard. Without the blood bikes, I’d just be sitting here, an old man, vegetating. It’s given me a new life."

The 74-year-old found himself without a purpose after his wife, Sylvia Pearce, died eight years ago from cancer.

Mr Pearce felt he couldn’t return to his volunteer role at the cancer support centre they both worked at, and wanted something new to fill his time.

He said: "You make plans when you retire, what you’re going to do. We never really had the chance to do any of that."

Mr Pearce always had a taste for the exciting life. He travelled the world as a fitter-welder, even working as far away as the Philippines, and also spent five years as a scuba diver instructor.

So when his son, David Pearce, who is the secretary of the charity, suggested that he return to his old love of motorbikes after Mrs Pearce died, he dove in head-first and joined the Midland Freewheelers.

The volunteer said: "To see the nurses who are so thankful, it’s brilliant. If I had to do it on a push-bike, I would. It gives you a wonderful feeling."

John and his late wife Sylvia
John with his son David

Mr Pearce transports anything of a medical nature, including blood, medicinal drugs, and breast milk, travelling the length and breadth of the country on his bike to deliver items to hospitals and patients in need.

This once infamously included a pair of false teeth, after a patient was discharged home without any, leaving them unable to eat.

"If we can put it on a bike, we’ll take it," he said, having transported everything from blood platelets to body lotion.

His recent rides have included picking up drugs from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and taking them to be converted into chemotherapy medication – which has an incredibly short shelf-life – before returning it to the hospital for their patients.

He has also taken supplies of blood and plasma to the Midlands Air Ambulance at RAF Cosford, as part of an ongoing clinical trial.

The Midland Freewheelers rely entirely on John and the other volunteers to provide emergency services to hospitals, medical facilities, and nursing homes in the West Midlands - so donations are essential to keep the charity offering their free service to the NHS, with even a 50p donation counting towards fuel costs.

And although some of the longer shifts can be daunting, Mr Pearce said: "No one ever refuses a job. Bikers are good people, they’re like a family."

For more information on the Midland Freewheelers, email info@midlandfreewheelers.co.uk

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