December 5 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
By day, vicar Ian Byrne is like any other, performing various duties and helping his many parishioners.
But after hours, the high octane reverend can often be seen revving along on a specially adapted motorbike, delivering life-saving blood supplies to hospitals across the region.
For, as well as being vicar of the Bungay Benefice, the 60-year-old also volunteers for the Norfolk Blood Bikers, part of the Service by Emergency Rider Volunteer (SERV) organisation.
When called upon Rev Byrne will head to Addenbrookes, James Paget, Norfolk and Norwich or the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn – providing vital help for those that require urgent blood deliveries throughout the night.
When the service started in 2011 it did just 29 runs, increasing to 250 in 2012 and 304 this year to date.
Rev Byrne said: “We support the NHS by providing a free courier service. Sometimes we meet up with other county SERV groups so that platelets or other blood product can be couriered into London or wherever it is needed.
“We usually operate between 7pm and 7am, 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 that makes it worth doing.”
Rev Byrne, who owns a Harley Davidson and ex MoD police Honda ST 1100, served in the Army for 30 years before joining the clergy in 2001.
In July 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”.
And on Friday he and other SERV riders were on hand to receive a £1,000 cheque for Norfolk SERV on the green in Southwold, outside the popular Red Lion Pub.
He said: “The Lions and the pub really have been brilliant.”
■ For details on the “blood bikes” visit www.servnorfolk.org.uk