Thropton WI was privileged to have yet another inspirational speaker at its October meeting.
Brian Slasser, from Northumbria Blood Bikers, roared up to the War Memorial Hall on his huge and distinctive motorbike to overwhelm us with the story of the history and dedication of this remarkable charity, with its volunteer organisers and riders, totally independent of the NHS.
We learned that this local arm of a national organisation was formed in 2014, began with two second-hand bikes and now has 10 bikes and five cars.
Our area is the largest in Great Britain and drivers are continually busy, covering every night during the week, all weekends and public holidays.
Drivers are trained to very high standards and they and their vehicles are tested annually.
Stringent rules have to be followed when collecting, carrying and delivering not only blood, but also platelets, equipment, kidney machines, specimens and fluids.
There are close links to our area’s two air ambulances, which receive blood deliveries every day.
Brian emphasised that traceability is the key to this voluntary service running safely and efficiently.
The talk closed with a moving video of the funeral of one biker who was killed in a road accident whilst out delivering blood, and this was followed by a totally spontaneous collection, which raised more than £100 in a matter of minutes.
What so impressed us was the fact that this essential organisation is run on a totally volunteer basis – shift controllers and drivers receive no payment whatsoever and fund-raisers must bring in the money necessary to keep the bikers on the road. The commitment of everyone involved left us feeling grateful and humbled.
Normal WI business was somewhat dwarfed by the impact of the talk, but, of course, it must continue.
Thropton WI will provide a delegate for next year’s NFWI annual meeting, it has participated in various federation events, and is supporting the federation’s efforts to support the lives of Dalit women in Tamil Nadu.
A request was made for visits to our cherished oldest member, who is poorly in hospital.
Our coffee morning is our next important project. It will take place in Rothbury’s Jubilee Hall on October 21, raising money for both our WI and the North Northumberland Hospice. After which, in November, we plan visits to the Sunderland Glass Centre and Edinburgh.
Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, November 1, when we shall hear about Childhood Under Occupation. We shall also be collecting bras for Oxfam and the gift collection boxes will be out for St George’s and Walby Hill. Prospective new members are always warmly welcomed.