Devon Freewheelers in a registered charity (1180264) that has been providing the people of Devon with a 'blood bike' service based in Honiton since 2009. During that time they have lovingly been referred to as the 'Devon Blood Bikes', a true and accurate description of what they are; along side the description 'blood bikes devon'.
Nationally there are independent blood bike groups in nearly every county of the country. Locally to us, there are our neighbours the Cornwall Blood Bikes to the southwest, to the north we have Freewheelers EVS covering areas such as Avon and Somerset, beyond them we have the Severn Freewheelers who cover Hereford, Worcester, Gloucestershire and North Wiltshire. A little further west, we have Blood Bikes Wales, to the East we have YFW Blood Bikes (formerly known as the Yeovil Freewheelers) covering their area of south Somerset and parts of Dorset, and ourselves who have been covering Devon, serving every NHS Trust and the Three Air Ambulances around us, Devon Air Ambulance and the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance. All of these charities serving the South West have been established much longer than us, and we've been here over ten years. These charities are who we consider to be the South West Blood Bikes.
Recently a former volunteer who served with us for four years, has since formed his own blood bike charity and called it 'South West Blood Bikes'. Using information and contacts he has established through Devon Freewheelers, this charity has been set up and is attempting to mirror the long established services we have been offering the people of Devon and the Plymouth Hospitals and is benefitting from our public standing and reputation. Members of the public have donated to this organisation as he has claimed that he is the 'Devon Blood Bikes' believing it to be us, and in the interests of the General Public, Devon Freewheelers are forced to issue a statement to inform them of the confusion this situation has forced.
Public information shows that one of the Trustees of this charity is Mr Michael Freeman. Public information also shows that Mr Freeman is the Director of a company in Plymouth. This Plymouth connection is quite important as it also proves that Mr Freeman has also registered two limited companies, in the names of Devon Blood Bike, and Blood Bikes Devon; both of the names that Devon Freewheelers have been known as since its foundation since 2009, at the same address. This had led to questions directed at us that we have changed to a commercial entity, and are closing the charity, or due to the financial standings of these registrations, have some sort of financial issues, even claims of money laundering!
Devon Freewheelers would like to make it perfectly clear that we have no association whatsoever with 'South West Blood Bikes' (we can find no evidence that they serve the south west), we have no association with the two limited companies he has registered, and we have no longer have an association with Mr Michael Freeman. We apologise profusely to the general public who have given donations to this organisation that were destined in good faith for the Devon Freewheelers.
A recent media release broadcast on BBC Spotlight regarding blood bikes in the south west broadcast a piece from Mr Paul Curtis, (whose name was broadcast with the news piece) also formerly a Devon Freewheelers volunteer who was representing this new blood bike charity in Plymouth, claiming that they were running out of money and appealing to the general public. We have since received phone calls asking if we were in fact the charity running out of money. Devon Freewheelers in financially stable thanks to the generous support of the people of Devon who have donated and stood by us over the last ten years. Our income is also supported by our EMS operations which receive a cost recovery from our service users.
Devon Freewheelers have no financial concerns even through the busiest period of our existence, we are not at risk of financial collapse, and further rumours of our fleet being seized are completely false. Our blood bikers operations are still volunteers, none of our blood bikers are paid, all of our blood bike operations to the NHS are provided completely free of charge; regardless of what it is, if it fits on the bike, it's free. We do however rely on those public donations to sustain that service and would like to avoid confusion by asking member of the public to donate via our website, make cheques payable to Devon Freewheelers and post donations to the registered address on our website. We are aware of South West Blood Bikes, the comments they are making and the actions to try and bring our reputation into question. It truly is a shame that in this current climate especially, we should have to be worrying about false allegations and snidey social media comments from this organisation instead of pulling and working together to defeat the worst medical crisis this country has ever faced.
We sincerely apologise to the public for any confusion the recent broadcast may have caused and felt a duty to the public to make it absolutely clear, Devon Freewheelers are not the South West Blood Bikes, we are the Devon Blood Bikes. Our Blood Bike Operations are carried out by volunteers, at no cost to the NHS. None of our riders are 'paid'. We do absolutely have paid staff, however none of our staff are paid by monies received from donations. We thank our loyal public supporters for everything they have done over the last eleven years and the NHS for the services they provide.