As Yorkshire’s only female ‘blood biker’, Annette Parker is helping to save lives in the city by transporting urgent medical supplies and test samples by motorbike.
Annette volunteers out of hours with Whiteknights Yorkshire Blood Bikes. The charity provides a free out of hours transportation service to the NHS and hospices across Yorkshire, and is part of a network that helps to save lives and money for the NHS.
During the lockdown, the Whiteknights have been supporting the new open air Phlebotomy (blood) Unit based at the Fly DSA Arena, which means that vulnerable patients do not have to go into hospital sites.
By day, Annette’s usual job is Team Leader for the Prince’s Trust Team Programme at the College’s Peaks Campus on Waterthorpe Greenway.
The 12-week personal development programme gives 16 to 25-year-olds, who may have previously experienced difficulty, the chance to gain new skills, take a qualification and meet new people.
The focus is on turning your life around and contributing to your community so for Annette, her two roles fit seamlessly together.
Annette said: “We are a small cog in a very large machine and I volunteer with Whiteknights because it’s one way I can contribute to the city and the NHS using a skill that I have. We are a charity – as is the Prince’s Trust - and provide these runs for free complementing other services in Sheffield.”
She explained: “It is physical work requiring concentration and resilience. Having been called out nine times during one night shift, and knowing that each call meant there was an ill person or a child needing a fast test result, I am proud to be a link in the chain that can ultimately help to save a life.”
Annette added: “It aligns with my day job because both are about altruism; young people need to learn how many people care and volunteer for others in Sheffield and that they too have a significant contribution to make.”
Paul Simpson, Executive Director of Human Resources and Organisation Development, The Sheffield College, said: “We are proud of our fantastic staff who are working hard during this challenging time to continue supporting our students, with some colleagues also getting involved in volunteering to help the city. It’s inspiring to see Annette’s contribution to such vital frontline work.”
Annette’s tasks include transporting blood and Covid-19 samples, urgent medical records, personal protective equipment and delivering test results to healthcare professionals to treat emergency patients.
Recently, Annette transported more than 200 samples to a hospital laboratory in Sheffield, and the outdoor Phlebotomy unit is getting busier. On a normal day the laboratory might process 10,000 samples with demand being higher at the moment.
As she added: “We owe all of the wonderful NHS staff all a very great deal at the moment – they are working in very challenging conditions. Despite the current situation, there’s something about Sheffield in the dead of night that is also really calming. The city views and all of the lights on the hills in front of you are magic.”