Bringing cheer by bike
A GROUP bringing cheer to front-line workers, hospital patients and care home residents is looking for donations of treats to deliver in the run-up to Easter.
Andy Davies, a veteran from Soundwell who served with the Royal Air Force Police during the 1980s, formed South West Volunteer Riders with two fellow ex-veterans, Phil Rhestigini and Sue Mackel, at the start of the latest lockdown.
They now have a team of 24 volunteers collecting and distributing donations to hospitals, fire and police stations, care homes, and charities supporting veterans and people in need across the region, mostly by motorbike.
Andy usually works as a martial arts and motorcycling instructor, but each lockdown leaves him unable to work, with his gym unable to open and motorbike training and testing suspended, so he turns his energy to helping other people in need.
In the first lockdown last year he was part of a group called NHS Band of Hope, which collected PPE and other essentials for NHS and care home workers.
During the latest lockdown the new group has been collecting toiletries in bottles and tubes, such as shower gel, toothpaste and moisturiser, for NHS and care home staff and patients.
The volunteer network now stretches from Somerset and Wiltshire to Gloucester.
The group is also collecting clothing which is donated to a homeless veterans' charity.
Now they are adding Easter eggs, sweets, biscuits and other treats to the list of donations they are looking to distribute to children in hospital, nurses, care home residents and staff.
Anyone who would like to donate items for the South West Volunteer Riders to deliver can email Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07598 505299.
Andy is also a member of the Volunteer Blood Bikes emergency service and veterans group West of England Rolling Thunder.
He said: "When the latest lockdown started I thought 'I've got no work on, so what can I do to help'?
"Delivering by bike works well because we can get through traffic and the helmet and gloves are a good form of PPE when we do deliveries and collections."
• ANOTHER group of motorcylists, The Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, made up of serving and retired law enforcement personnel, is looking to recruit new members to get involved in fundraising activities once restrictions allow.
The organisation covers the world and has 27 chapters throughout the UK. The local chapter has 44 members. Potential members can apply for membership via the website at www.england14.org