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Funding U-turn aids Highland and Islands Blood Bikes' plan as a cash boost of £30,000 from Highland Council's Inverness Common Good Fund to replace two of its motorcycles which were “literally ran into the ground” after covering more than 130,000 miles during the coronavirus pandemic

By Scott Maclennan

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Neil McLaughlin is among the riders, pictured last year as the service was about to launch in April.
Neil McLaughlin is among the riders, pictured last year as the service was about to launch in April.

A volunteer-led charity that couriers urgent and emergency medical items like blood samples, X-rays, drugs and documentation between hospitals and healthcare facilities has warmly welcomed a cash boost of £30,000 from Highland Council.

Highland and Islands Blood Bikes had applied for the cash from the Inverness Common Good Fund after two of its motorcycles were “literally ran into the ground” during the pandemic by covering more than 130,000 miles.

Covid-19 meant the little-known organisation became busier than ever as the NHS was stretched dealing with patients meaning blood bikes up and down the country became more vital.

The cost to the charity was large, necessitating a large bid for cash which was initially rejected by the Common Good Fund sub-committee on the basis that it should be paid for by the NHS.

The same sub-committee approved £30,000 to upgrade Inverness Rowing Club facilities, The Florians amateur dramatics company got £17,000 for ventilation improvements at their theatre, and the FLOW Photofest got £11,920 towards boards for their international photography competition.

But the majority of Inverness councillors dismissed the recommendation, pointing out that blood bikes help clinicians up and down the country treat patients and on this basis alone it qualified as “common good”.

Councillor Andrew Jarvie said: “It appears that they are looking for the replacement of two bikes that have covered between them 130,000 miles and have literally been run into the ground with the demand from Covid-19.

“So for a new organisation to come along at the start of the pandemic, fundraise for two bikes, two are now at the point of needing replacement because they have been used so heavily for the benefit of goodness knows how many people – this is a more than fair thing that we fund the replacement of the two bikes.”

A spokesman for the charity said: “Highland and Islands Blood Bikes are absolutely delighted with this decision, and while we await formal notification, I can state that this news comes at a really critical time.

“Our volunteers, and our fleet have been flat out since the beginning of the pandemic and the miles are certainly showing on the bikes. Add to this severely restricted fundraising activities, keeping the wheels turning is a real concern.

“We are 100 per cent volunteers and completely dependent on donations, and this will make a huge difference to the service we provide in the Inverness area.”

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