By day Andy Smith is a production supervisor at 3M’s Atherstone site in Warwickshire, but out of hours he can often be found delivering life-saving medical supplies to his local NHS hospital.
Andy is a volunteer delivery driver for Blood Bikes, an organisation that provides a rapid response medical transport service to the NHS and other organisations.
A keen motorcyclist, he uses his own to commute to work in the summer months and is a member of the Advanced Motorcyclists club. Andy says: “I have always wanted to ride a motorcycle and got one twelve years ago. After passing my test, I took an advanced motorcycling course to improve my skills and also with a view to joining Blood Bikes.
“I have Crohn’s disease and have had a couple of operations, so have made good use of the NHS over the years. I wanted to give something back and volunteering for Blood Bikes was the obvious choice for me.”
Andy, who has worked for 3M for 22 years, volunteers for regular shifts with Blood Bikes, starting at 7:00pm and finishing in the early hours of the morning.
He explains: “As we ride motorcycles we are able to get through the traffic quickly to deliver a wide range of life-saving medical products, such as plasma, drugs and blood. We also transport items such as x-rays and tissue samples.
“It can be a long night on shift when it’s busy as we operate outside of normal NHS delivery hours, so I always plan my shifts when I have no work the next day.”
As well as doing regular shifts for Blood Bikes, Andy has supported major events such as the 2022 Commonwealth Games, held in Birmingham, where he delivered medical items and collected samples from the Athletes’ Village.
He explains: “I volunteered over the two weeks of the Games and it was really interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes. It takes a lot of volunteers to enable large scale events like this to go ahead.”
As well as his work with Blood Bikes, Andy volunteers with RE:ACT, an emergency and crisis response charity operating in the UK and overseas.
RE:ACT was set up by an army general and many volunteers are military veterans. Teams are sent by the charity to areas where people need immediate and urgent relief to secure sites and set up supply chains.
Andy has supported RE:ACT by answering calls to set up Covid-19 testing sites, create secure supply chains to support the Ukraine crisis and to set up security check points in advance of the late HM The Queen’s state funeral.
He explains: “I am on standby for volunteering requests from RE:ACT, but only respond to those in the UK due to my other time commitments. It is an amazing organisation and the work is really varied and interesting as we are the first team to arrive at the scene before the large humanitarian organisations mobilise.
“I get a lot out of volunteering for both organisations and am lucky that my wife and son are incredibly supportive as this can cut into family time.”