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Meet the volunteers delivering breast milk to help the region's babies

PUBLISHED: 05:30 13 May 2019

The SERV SC volunteers and one of their bloodbikes Picture: MIKE SKINNER

The SERV SC volunteers and one of their bloodbikes Picture: MIKE SKINNER

Archant

A group of volunteers are helping to save lives across the county by delivering vital medical supplies; including breast milk.

SERV Suffolk and Cambridgeshire deliver medical supplies to NHS hospitals and air ambulances across the two counties.

The service began in 2011 and now sees volunteers transporting more than just the blood and plasma one might expect.

The 100 strong team of volunteers includes a number of specially dedicated individuals who carry breast milk to babies in need.

"The mums express it and freeze it," said Mike Skinner, one of the team's call handlers.

"We then load up cooler boxes and often take it to the Rosie Hospital at Addenbrookes in Cambridge."

The Rosie Hospital is one of the UK's milk banks and stores human breast milk so that it can be used to help babies in need.

The volunteers also drop off milk to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals.

Mr Skinner said that volunteers were often called to pick up milk from mums who were unable to drive themselves to donate.

The milk, that is collected by the volunteers is then used to help premature babies who may be unable to process formula milk.

In total, over 6,900 runs have been undertaken by the volunteers in the past eight years for all the items they deliver.

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More than 500 of those coming in the year to date.

Mr Skinner said that they had definitely seen an increase in calls since the service began eight years ago not least because the service has diversified its offering over the years to include breast milk and also daily deliveries to air ambulances.

"We will take anything they need," said Mr Skinner, "even medical cards."

Recently the bikers received a donation of £4,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme.

With the and further donations from other local organisations the charity was able to purchase a new custom 'bloodbike' to help it continue its work.

The bikes are specially designed by Yamaha to hold the life saving supplies until they reach their intended destination.

Overall, the scheme costs nothing to the NHS; with even calls to book deliveries being reverse charged to the charity.

By taking on the delivery duties themselves the drivers are thought to have saved the NHS around £500,000.

"Without us the NHS would have to pay for these products to be delivered by taxi or ambulance," said Mr Skinner.

Many of those carrying out the deliveries are motorcyclist enthusiast who enjoy putting their passion to good use. Others

"It's to do with helping and supporting the NHS. Many of our volunteers have joined us because they know people who have benefited," said SERVSC chairman Cindy Dickerson.

"It's them putting something back."

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