Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Caversham Heights Society

THE society began its 2019-20 season on September 4 with the annual meeting and a fascinating talk on Blood Bikes.

Keith Watson chaired the annual meeting, which was attended by 52 members out of the current membership of 150.

The meeting reviewed the previous year’s activities of 13 lectures, a Christmas event, four visits and one theatre visit.

The successful mini-holiday to Kent in May was commented on, as was the need for someone to volunteer to take on the role of organising such events in future.

The accounts were in the black for the first time in several years, for which the treasurer was duly thanked.

The committee was duly thanked and re-elected.

After tea and coffee. members reassembled to listen to Capt Kamran Irani, chairman of the Oxon, Bucks, Berks and Northants branch of the Blood Bikes charity, give an informative, inspirational and thought- provoking talk.

In 1962 Margaret Ryerson’s family in south London were in desperate need of a blood transfusion for one of their number but none was available and no transport was available either.

Someone volunteered to ride their motorbike to a north London hospital to collect some blood, which proved life-saving.

Mrs Ryerson then decided to start a charity that would provide cover from 7pm to 6am every day, when NHS hospitals lacked sufficient staff in their blood units, to take blood and blood products from one hospital to another as required.

Volunteer motorcyclists in this region use 13 specialist motor bikes provided by Yamaha, Honda and BMW and three specialist 4x4 vehicles to cover an area of 1,700 square miles, linking 26 major hospitals.

Each rider operates from home and is co-ordinated by a central control centre so that they can be tracked and linked up with other riders as and when necessary.

In 2018 the team answered more than 2,000 calls and saved the NHS several million pounds that would otherwise have been spent on taxi fares. Nationally, there are 32 groups with 3,000 volunteers. More recently, a human milk bank service was set up. Mothers express any surplus milk, freeze it in small bottles that the Blood Bike drivers collect and deliver to wherever it is most needed.

The neo-natal unit in the Children’s Hospital at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford helps to co-ordinate the service, which has saved the lives of many premature babies.

It is little wonder the Blood Bike drivers are known as “Angels of the Dark”.

Members were unanimous in thanking the speaker for his inspiring talk.

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, September 18, when the talk will be on “River Thames flooding control from 1947”.

The society meets in Caversham Heights Methodist Church hall in Highmoor Road on alternate Wednesday, starting at 8pm with coffee from 7.15pm. New members are always welcome. For more information, visit www.caversham

Keith Watson

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