Skip to main content

Riding to save lives

459. Daniel Lavery

A driving instructor founded Devon Freewheelers, a team of 50 volunteer motorcycle riders who deliver blood and life-saving medical supplies in emergencies.

The Devon Freewheelers work with local hospitals in the county for the emergency transport of blood, human tissues for transplant service, urgent medications, donor breast milk and any urgent medical equipment that can be transported by motorcycle. The entire service is provided completely free of charge and the charity receives no payment or funding for the service they provide and is managed entirely by fundraising and public donation. This has provided a cost saving of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the NHS each year and has saved thousands of lives throughout the county and beyond since its foundation.

In 2005, Daniel’s wife Shelley, then 34, suffered a traumatic delivery while pregnant with their youngest child and was rushed to hospital. It was a delivery of blood by a bike volunteer that saved both of their lives and it was this that inspired Daniel to set up Devon Freewheelers. He even sold his home to fund the set up and run the charity.

Devon Freewheelers has a team of 50 volunteer emergency vehicle drivers who provide a weekday out of hour’s service in evenings and 24hrs during weekends and bank holidays in the Devon region. Their work has expanded significantly, starting out with one or two jobs a week and now dealing with an average of 16 calls a day. During the last bank holiday they responded to 108 calls.

The drivers are also supported by a network of 30 volunteers providing call centre and essential fundraising support. They have an annual budget is £150,000 which is essential for maintaining the fleet of 19 response bikes and five Emergency vehicles to the highest possible standards. Daniel has also inspired over 100 people in the community to volunteer to help fundraise for the organisation and its running costs, through organising events and promoting the charity to the public.

Through co-ordination with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, bikers are trained to respond to emergencies and answer 999 calls. All volunteer bikers must pass their advanced motoring test every three years and a quarterly review of their medical skills given to them by the local ambulance trust. The Devon Freewheelers are the only charity in the country to have achieved this significant ‘Working in Partnership Agreement’ with an NHS Ambulance Service, recognised as ‘Co-Responders’ similar to that of the police and fire service. This additional service is also provided to the community completely free of charge and is maintained by their fundraising efforts.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Having experienced first-hand the life-saving service blood bikes provide, Daniel has worked tirelessly to set up the Devon Freewheelers to support his local NHS services. He has inspired dozens of other volunteers to give their time to transport urgent medical supplies and I am delighted to recognise Daniel’s service by making him the UK’s 459th Point of Light.”

Daniel said:

“I am absolutely honoured to be given this award and to be recognised by the Prime Minister David Cameron. The Devon Freewheelers are a team of volunteers who fill me with the pride and passion I need to continually push forward with the Charity’s objectives. Every day the volunteers have a significant impact on someone’s pain and suffering and we are honoured to be able to relieve that pain or distress in some way, shape or form in the services we provide.”

Neil Parish MP said:

“I am delighted that Daniel Lavery’s work across Devon and the West Country has been recognised with the Point of Light Award. Daniel has worked tirelessly to set up and run Devon Freewheelers and over the last five years he and his professional team of motorbike riders have saved hundreds of lives across Devon and the West Country each year.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

Volunteer now

Search winners