Blood courier

27 September 2013

NOT many priests own a Harley-Davidson, let alone an ex-MoD police Honda ST1100, but the Revd Ian Byrne (above, right) is frequently called on to deliver urgently needed blood to several hospitals, including Addenbrooke's, in Cambridge, and the Queen Elizabeth, in King's Lynn.

Mr Byrne was in the army for 30 years before being ordained in 2001, and is still a keen motorcyclist. He is now Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity with St Mary, Bungay, in St Edmundsbury & Ipswich diocese.

He is also a volunteer with the Norfolk Blood Bikers, part of the Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers (SERV). Since the service started in 2011, calls on their help have rapidly escalated, and they have so far dealt with 304 this year. "We support the NHS by providing a free courier service," Mr Byrne, who is 60, says.

"Sometimes we meet up with other county SERV groups, so that platelets or other blood products can be couriered into London, or wherever they are needed. We usually operate between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., which suits me, as it does not interfere with parish duties. We have 52 volunteers, and we are all enthusiasts. But it's about giving something back to the community. The NHS really does need us, and it makes it worth doing."

Recently, he was asked by the Lions Club of Southwold to attend a fund-raising event - supported by the town's Red Lion pub - with one of his group's five "blood bikes", with the result that he was been handed a cheque for £1000 for Norfolk SERV.

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