Bike-bound NHS support charity warns it may have to quit if funds are not found

Mid Devon Star: Neil Gardner from the charity, who has warned of the funding crisis Neil Gardner from the charity, who has warned of the funding crisis

A DEVON charity which delivers organs, equipment and drugs to the NHS has warned it is in financial crisis and may have to withdraw the service unless a steady stream of funding can be found.

Devon Freewheelers is a 45-strong group of experienced motorcyclists who give up their time to provide an emergency out-of-hours courier service for NHS facilities across the county.

Formed in 2009, the charity responds to an average of 16 calls a night on seven marked bikes, though most riders use their own vehicles, for which they receive no fuel allowance.

Most of its funding has come from collections at public events, but now the charity is appealing for corporate sponsorship up to £4,000 per month so it can meet its costs.

Training officer Neil Gardner said the situation became so serious before Christmas the group was down to just £130 in the pot.

He said: “Our level of funding’s nowhere near enough to allow us to comfortably keep the bikes on the road permanently.

“In an ideal world we’d have Lottery help or company sponsorship, but until now the main bulk of our funding has been on an ad hoc basis.”

Recently, the group received £500 by Exeter software firm Grey Matter, and later this month it will rec-eive a new motorcycle don-ated by Devon Freemasons.

Neil said: “Every donation’s extremely important to us as it helps to keep the bikes on the road “It’s particularly gratifying to receive support and recognition from local companies, and to know the ser-vice we provide is appreciated by the community.

“We need to keep up that level of exposure to make the public aware of what we do so we don’t return to the dire situation we had before Christmas.”

To donate, visit www. devon freewheelers.org.uk

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