A shared cause, and indeed, a common quest for change, is usually what motivates people to volunteer for a charitable organisation. However, while Galway-based Blood Bike volunteer Vincent Knight has a clear desire to make a difference, and help his fellow human beings, he told the Roscommon People he first decided to become involved with Blood Bike West because of his wish to “to give something back,” following his darling daughter Sophie’s (now 10) premature birth.
“My daughter was born premature and we needed breast milk. My wife was unable to feed her at the time and the Blood Bike charity helped us out by transferring breast milk to University College Hospital Galway (UCHG). And, when I got my daughter back on track, being a biker myself, I signed up to become a volunteer,” explained the dad of two, who also has a son Conor (13).
We were chatting to Vincent, a local postman, in advance of this year’s Groovy Bike Night fundraiser, which will be held in the Railway Bar, Roscommon town on 22nd of September, with organisers promising supporters a great night’s entertainment.
“This year we’re taking it up a notch with a ‘60s themed night, so get those mod costumes out of the wardrobes, and recreate the golden age of your youth,” laughs local man Tom Rumley, who is one of the organisers of this charity event, along with Farnan Hegarty, Tom Cummins, Slawomir Jurek and Dermot Kiernan.
Tom adds: “We’ll have a DJ instead of live music, there’ll be our ever-popular signature barbeque to look forward to, and of course, there’ll be spot prizes galore with raffle tickets on sale on the night. We also have a fantastic main bumper prize which is our draw for a €1,000 voucher for the holiday of your choice, with tickets on sale for just €25 each; but hurry up and get yours because, as there’s a limit of 150 tickets on sale for this fantastic prize, interest is high, as you can imagine”.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Blood Bike charity’s work in Ireland, this emergency medical transport service, run entirely by dedicated volunteers, was set up in Galway in 2012. The group transports urgent, lifesaving blood, blood products, minor organs, breastmilk, medication such as chemotherapy treatments/drugs, etc., in various vehicles, depending on the need of the hospital making that high-priority call. However, it’s mostly motorbikes that’re used, with Vincent telling us “nobody probably ever sees us because we do this during the night. We operate from 7 pm to 7 am…and people who do see us tend to think we’re the police”. But they’re not the Gardaí. They’re unpaid volunteers, guardian angels of the night, often getting up from their own beds, and in all kinds of treacherous weather, even on Christmas Day, these champions unselfishly leave their own families behind in order to bring lifesaving help to others in need.
“We operate this service 24/7, 365 days a year. I started off as a controller because I lived 60 miles away from the hospital, which was physically too far away to transport lifesaving meds. I’m now the vice-chair of Blood Bike West and I’d like to say a huge thank you to the boys for all of their help,” says Vincent.
Blood Bike West, (along with other Blood Bike charities around the country) does not receive any funding from the State or the HSE, which is why they depend entirely on the goodwill of those who donate and attend these fundraising events. This fearless band of brothers and sisters, made up of nurses, firefighters, post men/women, factory workers and people from all walks of life, link up with all Blood Bike charities around the country to provide support to hospitals and other agencies to help save lives, including a local Roscommon mother, who, according to Vincent “needed breastmilk for her new-born twins…we provided the service to this lady for about six weeks. We also did a run from Portiuncula to Roscommon General with meds over three nights”.
All funds raised during Saturday’s groovy night will provide vital support, and go towards making a major impact on the lives of those who depend heavily on these volunteer bikers. Besides, don’t we all know it’s far better to give than to receive!
So, get backcombing now folks, because there’s sure to be Brylcreemed buzz cuts and beehives aplenty on display in support of this fun event happening at The Railway Bar, Roscommon Town, Saturday night, 22nd of September; with Tom (amháin), Farnan, Tom (eile), Slawomir and Dermot promising revellers – a great groovy fun night for all”.