HEADTEACHER by day and lifesaver by night – on paper this motivated man sounds more like a superhero than a biker.
But as he speeds his way across the county delivering vital medical supplies, blood and notes, a lifesaver is exactly what Tony Markham is.
For the 52-year-old is a volunteer for the Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes – the rapid response motorcycle-based charity for which volunteers transport medical supplies to hospitals, including blood, plasma, breast milk and patient notes.
Tony, of Norton Drive, Fareham, said: ‘The inspiration to volunteer comes from searching for that altruistic feeling.
‘I feel like I am doing something productive. It is so different from my job as a headteacher and it gives me a different side of life.’
Tony, who works at Herne Junior School in Petersfield, first discovered the idea when out in Fareham town centre at the council’s annual 999 day.
A representative from NABB had his bike on display, which being a keen biker already it caught Tony’s eye, and the pair got chatting.
He said: ‘It sounded like a great way to help others.’
Three months later Tony passed his Institute of Advanced Motorists test and joined the team, serving with the Wessex branch of the Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers and he hasn’t looked back.
He now delivers supplies to hospitals across Hampshire and also in emergency situations to the air ambulance as well as being part of the First Bike on Scene scheme. Tony even gave up his New Year’s Eve to ride up to Tooting and back.
The service provided by the bikers means that these deliveries can be made out of normal operational hours and it saves the NHS money as otherwise it would have to pay for taxis.
Tony, a married father-of-one, said helping others in hospital appealed to him because of his own experiences.
His mother Alma Markham died in 2013 and his father Alfred died last year, and both were in and out of hospital before they died, as was his father-in-law Stanley Wakefield, who died earlier this year.
Tony, who is also a foster carer, said these experiences showed him first-hand how crucial helping to deliver this service to the NHS is.
Tony even has a few ideas of his own, and said he is pleased to see that mobile operator O2 is working with NABB to improve the technology, such as fitting the riders’ helmets with bluetooth so that can be easily contactable.
Billy D’Arcy, from O2, said: ‘Week in, week out, unsung heroes such as the blood runners provide vital support to the UK’s public services. At O2, we are working to understand their needs and provide technological support to help them carry out their work.’
Volunteering has brought a new dimension to Tony’s life and he encouraged other bikers to sign up. He said: ‘Rather than just riding around, you can get out there with a purpose and give something back. It’s so rewarding.’
For more information go to servwessex.org.uk/