Devon Freewheelers find permanent home

09:38 14 February 2013

Devon Freewheelers.

Devon Freewheelers.

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Blood bike charity to be based at Heathpark in Honiton.

A life-saving charity which has been operating from Honiton for more than two years has found a permanent home in the town.

Devon Freewheelers, which delivers blood and breast milk to NHS hospitals out-of-hours, has moved into Unit 5, in Durham Way, on Heathpark Industrial Estate.

The major development was made possible thanks to the generosity of the unit’s retired owner.

“Now we have a permanent home in Honiton and it is fitting that we are opposite the ambulance station,” said the blood bike charity’s founder, Daniel Lavery.

He is appealing to the public to help fit out the building and is inviting anybody willing to assist to visit the unit. Help is required to create an office area and donations of office furniture, equipment and timber would be gratefully received - as well as labour.

On Friday the public is welcome to attend the unit at 10.30am when Devon Freemasons will present a brand new blood bike to the Freewheelers, a gift made possible thanks to a legacy.

Although it provides a life-saving service, Devon Freewheelers only exists because a blood bike service in Northern Ireland saved Mr Lavery’s Honitonian wife from a premature death.

Shelly Roe-Lavery was on the brink of death and had been read the last rites by a priest when she turned a corner and started to recover.

Mr Lavery said: “My wife went into premature labour with our fourth son, Devon. The baby was in distress and an emergency caesarean had to be carried out.

“Unfortunately, the placenta was growing outside of the womb and this had not showed up on a scan.

“During the caesarean, Shelly bled out and suffered massive blood loss. Surgeons at the hospital in Belfast could not stem the bleed and, while she was in the recovery room, she had a massive haemorrhage and went into shock.”

What surprised Mr Lavery was that the blood which saved his wife’s life had been couriered to the hospital by bike. And the rider was a volunteer.

“I thought it was a fantastic service,” he said. “When we moved back to Honiton, I decided I wanted to give something back.

“I tried to find the local blood bike service, but there wasn’t one serving Devon. I was shocked that there was one everywhere else in the country, but not here.”

Mr Lavery ran the service on his own for almost a year, investing £15,000 of his own money.

“Once Devon Freewheelers became a registered charity, all doors were opened,” he said.

“We never meet the people we help and, in all honesty, they probably don’t know we exist.

“We are blokes with full-time jobs who get up in the middle of the night to answer a call from the NHS. We do it because of the personal satisfaction we get knowing that we are making a difference.”

You can donate, volunteer or support the charity by visiting www.devonfreewheelers.org.uk

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