As we waved a welcome goodbye to 2020 and all the challenges it held, everyone at the Devon Freewheelers has been taking a look back at the efforts of our fantastic supporters who have this year gone the extra mile to come up with new and imaginative ways to safely raise money for the charity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their efforts and donations, large and small, have helped keep the vital, free, service on the road throughout the year.
Because of the coronavirus the blood bike service has been in demand more than ever before, providing support to the NHS and to our towns, villages and communities throughout Devon.
Caroline Retter, Devon Freewheelers Operations Manager, said: “What a year 2020 has been for us all, including our volunteers who provide the free blood bike service to the NHS across Devon and beyond.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the blood bike service has been more in demand than ever and our fantastic volunteers have risen to the challenge giving even more of their time to assist Devon’s extremely stretched health services.
She added: “The other main challenge that has affected the blood bike service, along with so many other charities, is not being able to fundraise as we always have done - no store collections, no bike shows, no street collections - this has led to a decrease in our funding, which when the level of work rose significantly caused a few sleepless nights.
“Fortunately, the fantastic people at BP provided blood bike groups with free fuel for a few weeks at the height of the first lockdown, plus our incredible supporters continued to send in donations and raise money for us with some imaginative fundraising.
“This meant that the blood bike service could continue to be operational and continue to help those in need.”
Cranbrook Motorcycle Riders kick-started 2020 fundraising for Devon Freewheelers when the group held its popular Christmas tree chipping service in aid of the charity.
Supporter Fiona Taylor in January 2020 pledged to swim 26 miles in 26 hours for the Devon Freewheelers, with a challenge set in Doncaster.
Her successful swim challenge raised hundreds of pounds for the charity.
January 2020 was the year charity champion Tanya Robinson, from Exmouth, began her 12 months of challenges for Devon Freewheelers, with the Dirty Devil Stampede.
Tanya’s aim was to push herself to the limits to celebrate her 40th birthday to raise funds to keep the free blood bike service on the road, helping the NHS.
Members of the Countess Wear WI visited the Devon Freewheelers headquarters this month to hand over a donation of £433, raised thanks to the group’s Soup and Pud event, and a Christmas concert.
And a bucket collection held at Tesco in Axminster raised awareness of the work of Devon Freewheelers, and funds for the charity.
Children from Plympton sang The Wheels on the Blood Bike Go Round and Round at the start of February when the charity won the support of the Ridgeway Methodist Church.
Devon Freewheelers was chosen as the church’s charity of the year for 2019/2020 and the pre-school youngsters sang a song in celebration.
Torbay Spread Eagle Club members this month presented Devon Freewheelers with £940, raised by members after the group’s Christmas lunch.
A further donation of £450 was handed to the charity thanks to the generosity of the members of the Torbay Homemaker group, enabling Devon Freewheelers to continue supporting the NHS across the county.
Devon Freewheelers was ‘absolutely delighted’ when in February Honiton Golf Club’s incoming Men’s Captain, Neil Pullman, announced he would be supporting the charity during his year at the helm.
A sum of £1,000 was this month presented to Devon Freewheelers thanks to the residents of Alexandra Court, in Barnstaple, North Devon.
The ‘fantastic donation’ was made possible thanks to the residents choosing Devon Freewheelers as their charity of the year, and also filling many of the charity’s collection boxes.
A bucket collection held at Tesco in Kingsteignton raised funds for the charity and awareness of the Devon Freewheelers.
Devon Freewheelers volunteers were ‘absolutely stunned’ by the generosity shown towards the charity during March, not least when Greggs in Honiton delivered care packages of goodies to the Blood Bikes headquarters.
Honiton Scouts handed over a ‘fabulously heavy bag’ of five pence pieces to the charity in early March when the Jose Colony Beavers, before the first lockdown, were visited by a Devon Freewheelers volunteer and decided to help fund the blood bike’s fuel.
A bucket collection held at Honiton Co-op by volunteers raised awareness of the Devon Freewheelers’ work, and funds for the charity.
Devon Freewheelers volunteer Jim Robinson was this month presented with a donation of £500 from the Per Mare Per Terram Lodge, in Exmouth, thanks to an evening held in Lympstone.
And £2,020 was given to the charity thanks to the fundraising efforts of Ye Exe Valley RAOB and Ye Culm Valley RAOB.
Thanks to a successful crowd funder in April, Goldsmiths University Art and Design tutor and Helpful Engineering UK made and donated to Devon Freewheelers hundreds of PPE face shields.
This month Devon Blood Bikes supporter Chesca won the admiration of everyone at Devon Freewheelers, when she Braved the Shave, completely cutting off her hair to raise £340 for the charity.
The charity this month was grateful for a donation of £2,000 from the Devonshire Mark Master Masons, presented by Provincial Grand Master of Devon, Peter Balsom.
When the Cranberry Farm pub moved its quiz night online in April, the event raised £187 for Devon Freewheelers.
Donations of Easter eggs raised the spirits of the charity’s volunteers when this month Urgent Care Response Team nurse Hannah surprised the Devon Freewheelers team with gifts at the Honiton headquarters.
The Tavistock Tesco store this month showed its support for the charity when staff learned Devon Freewheelers volunteers were on the brink of using their own cash to fuel the bikes.
The supermarket giant invited volunteers to collect donations at the tills and the generous staff also clubbed together and donated £1,000.
Further donations of cash were received thanks to the Tiverton Tesco store, and some hand sanitiser, made by Exeter Gin, which was used by the Blood Bikes volunteers.
Getting creative in May resulted in crochet rainbows being sold in aid of Devon Freewheelers and the Exeter Neonatal Unit, thanks to the skills of one of the charity’s call handlers, Becki, and Emma Fulls, from Dazzl’EmNails, in Cullompton.
The volunteers this month enjoyed a VE Day anniversary cake, baked and donated thanks to Random Kitchen in Honiton.
VE Day 75th anniversary celebrations further boosted the charity after 16-year-old Phoebe Blue sang and recorded two songs, We”ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover, to raise funds for Devon Freewheelers and the Devon Air Ambulance.
Jamie Taylor Vehicle and Body Repair, in Honiton, this month donated a free mop, polish and body check on the charity’s BMW 530.
A surprise gift of cupcakes by a four-year-old girl called Isla made Devon Freewheelers volunteers smile in May.
The Cranberry Farm pub, at Cranbrook, supported the Devon Freewheelers throughout the pandemic and in June landlady Claire made sure the charity had a double donation.
Thanks to a virtual pub quiz, she presented the charity with £481 and a further donation of £1,138 after setting up a local sewing group, the Cranbrook Scrubbers, who raised funds making facemasks.
June was the month when chainsaw carver Gary Orange generously donated a unique wood sculpture of a Blood Biker, which drew bids of more than £300 when it was auctioned for Devon Freewheelers.
The charity was this month visited by Wendy Charnock, who generously donated a new Kawasaki Versys 1000 Blood Bike to the charity, in memory of her husband Nigel Charnock, who died in 2018.
A fundraising darts night in aid of the Devon Freewheelers was in July held by the crew onboard HMS Argyll.
August brought a donation of £679 for the charity thanks to the Sampford Peverell Historic Vehicle Gathering, when the group held its Donald Broom Memorial Meet.
In the same month the charity was presented with a new BMW RT1250 Blood Bike in memory of a much-loved son, Dan Halloran.
The donation was made possible thanks to Kelvin and Jayne Halloran, with their son Tom – Dan’s twin brother - setting up the group Bikers Make a Difference (BMAD).
Over the years BMAD has supported the Devon Blood Bikes in numerous way; some 11 years ago the cause enabled the Devon Freewheelers to become a registered charity, thanks to a donation.
In September scores of supporters bought and wore Devon Freewheelers facemasks as a way of fundraising for the charity.
In October it was announced fundraiser Kelly Lawson was taking on a personal challenge in memory of her much-loved Dad, who died from Covid-19 earlier in 2020.
Kelly’s Challenge 62, which begins in spring 2021, aims to raise £1,000 for the Devon Freewheelers, through a JustGiving page.
The charity this month was grateful to receive £1,000 raised by the Cranbrook Motorcycle Riders group, and £330 thanks to the Bikers Rights Alliance Group.
November was the month that Devon Freewheelers supporter Tanya Robinson completed her penultimate charity challenge of 42 miles, as part of her ‘big birthday’ year of pushing herself to the extreme.
The oar-some Force Genesis – a four-strong team – in December left the UK to tackle the 3,000-mile Talisker Atlantic Whisky Challenge, rowing continuously to raise £20,000 for the Devon Freewheelers through a JustGiving page.
They set off from La Gomera, in the Canary Islands on December 12, 2020, and are expected to row into Antigua sometime in January 2021.
December was also the month when the residents of Orcombe Court, in Exmouth, showed support for the charity raising funds through a Christmas hamper raffle.
Charity champion Tanya Robinson this month walked for 24-hours from North Devon to the charity’s Honiton headquarters, finishing her year of challenges to raise more than £2,500 for the Devon Freewheelers.
The work of the charity was in December 2020 highlighted at Honiton Forward Christmas Market thanks to Devon Freewheelers volunteer husband and wife team Tony and Amy.
A much-appreciated donation of £600 was made to the charity in December thanks to the members of the Raymond's Hill Ladies Club.
And the East Devon residents of Talaton ended the year teaming up with neighbouring Whimple village to host a virtual carol concert, to raise funds for the Devon Freewheelers and the Devon Air Ambulance, through online donations.
Photos show some of the 2020 fundraisers.
- Photo 1: Clockwise: Raymond's Hill Ladies Club, Force Genesis, Amy at Honiton Forward Christmas Market, Tanya Robinson, Talaton and Whimple residents.
- Photo 2: Clockwise: Cranbrook Motorcycle Riders, Alexandra Court resident with volunteer Paul, Jamie Taylor Vehicle and Body Repair, Wendy Charnock, Honiton Scouts, Chesca, Per Mare Per Terram Lodge (centre).
- Photo 3: Clockwise: The BMW RT1250 Blood Bike in memory of a Dan Halloran, Gary Orange’s chainsaw carving, Dan Halloran’s family present the new Blood Bike, Kawasaki Versys 1000 to the charity, volunteers supporting the HMS Argyll event, Wendy Charnock presents the new bike in memory of her husband Nigel Charnock.
- Photo 4: Clockwise: Fiona Taylor, bucket collection in Axminster, Countess Wear WI, Kelly Lawson with Greenbow Running Club members, Cranbrook Motorcycle Riders.
- Photo 5: Clockwise: Volunteers at Tesco, Kingsteignton, Torbay Homemaker group, Urgent Care Response Team nurse Hannah, Claire, Cranberry Farm pub landlady, Torbay Spread Eagle Club.
- Photo 6: Clockwise: Phoebe Blue, Random Kitchen in Honiton, Ye Exe Valley RAOB and Ye Culm Valley RAOB members, Devon Mark Master Masons, Tesco Tiverton, volunteers at Honiton Co-op.