Motorcyclists in their hundreds showing their appreciation for NHS and essential workers have raised funds to keep a Honiton-based charity Blood Bike on the road for almost a year.
The Devon NHS Ride of Thanks raised more than £2,967 for the Devon Freewheelers charity thanks to the generosity of more than 600 motorcyclists’ donations.
The event raised almost £3,000 for the Devon Freewheelers – the equivalent cost of fuelling one Blood Bike for almost a year, funding 277 journeys, to support the NHS and its patients for free.
Russell Roe, Devon Freewheelers Deputy CEO, based in Honiton, said: “The charity’s volunteers are so grateful to everyone who took part and donated. Their generosity will fund the fuel for one Blood Bike for almost a whole year, which is a huge help.
“The Blood Bikes service, which is free to the NHS and its patients, relies on the generosity of public donations to continue.
“Every penny raised through the NHS Ride of Thanks Devon will be ploughed back into supporting the communities we serve, helping those who rely on the vital service the Devon Freewheelers Blood Bikes and its volunteers carry out every day, around the clock.”
He added: “The charity and its volunteers would like to thank event organiser Andy Ash for his hard work, coordinating and arranging the NHS Ride of Thanks, and for choosing to support the Devon Freewheelers.
“We are also grateful to the Widows Sons Masonic Bikers Association - the Pilgrims - for marshalling the ride, and to the Plymouth Motorcycle Club and Riviera Charity Riders for their work to make sure the event went ahead smoothly.”
The Devon event raised £2,425 for the Devon Blood Bikes, with an additional £552 donated to the charity through collection pots.
Funds raised for the Devon Freewheelers through donations from the county’s NHS Ride of Thanks event are equal to the cost of replacing 11 sets of tyres for the Blood Bikes, seven vehicle services, or fuelling 41,500 motorbike miles – the same distance as a round trip from Exeter to New Zealand.
Organiser Andy Ash said he hoped to make the ride a national annual event, to raise funds for causes across the country.
Mr Ash, who thanked all who helped coordinate the event, said: “The day could not have gone better. Some 457 bikes set off on time and arrived as planned, and 150 bikes turned up independently of the ride. Many of them paid money directly to the Devon Freewheelers by putting over £300 in their bucket, which just shows the honesty and generosity of the biker family.
“Around the country similar events happened and the Ride of Thanks served its purpose of showing our appreciation of the NHS and essential workers who saw us through the worst of the pandemic and hopefully out the other side.
“It was great to have the Devon Freewheelers riding with us, as well as bikes from the ambulance and fire service.”
Mr Ash added: “We have said our thanks and it’s time to move on. Next year we are naming our ride Annual Charity Rideout, and each group that gets involved will support a charity of their choosing.
“My hope is that it becomes a national annual event for many years to come.”