Fuelling the fightback: Blood Bikers get free BP fuel and VED scrapped

Blood Bikers rely on donations to survive
Blood Bikers rely on donations to survive

UK Blood Bike charities have been given vital additional financial support, with Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax) on service vehicles now scrapped and free fuel across BP’s 1200-strong network of forecourts during the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.

The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes (NABB) announced on April 1 that all service vehicles would now pay no VED, following a six-year battle to get all blood bikes, cars and 4x4s recognised as part of the NHSV (National Health Service Vehicle) tax class. The move will see the charities save an estimated collective £40,000 a year.

Elsewhere, the NABB also say they have reached an agreement with fuel giants, BP, which will see every Blood Biking charity across the UK receive free fuel at any of their pumps until at least the end of April. 

“It’s an absolutely fantastic gesture, but it’s more than that,” NABB Chairman, John Stepney, 61, told MCN. “All of our fund raising has stopped because it all relies on people congregating, so that avenue has dried up.

“If you don’t have fuel, you can’t run – it’s as simple as that,” John continued. “It was such a good deal and we arranged it for not just the NABB groups, but all groups.”

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John Stepney is the chairman of NABB

Operating free of charge across the UK, there are currently around 350 dedicated blood delivery vehicles on UK roads, with around 80% of those being motorcycles. In a bid to help combat Covid-19 many of these groups are now running 24/7 – delivering vital PPE equipment and virus samples, as well as their usual packages.

The offer came following an earlier incentive of free fill-ups across the firm’s network to all police, fire, emergency NHS ambulances and NHS trust non-emergency vehicles, when using either a BP Plus or Allstar fuel card, which came into effect on March 21.

“At the end of the day, I’d like to think that BP is a good company, made up of good people, and good people want to help,” BP chief executive, Bernard Looney, 49, told MCN.

“The work that [the Blood Bikers] do – I think it’s incredible,” the former Honda CRB600 owner continued. “I wrote to my team and said: ‘Some of us will have relied on this in our own lives and friends will have relied on this.

“There’s a lot that we are trying to do and this is one of them. I’m just very grateful that we have people out there like the Blood Bikers, which I think are extraordinary and I never realised were volunteers!”

One of the charities making use of the donation is Northumbria Blood Bikes, who spend around £40,000 a year on fuelling vehicles their 13 bikes and six cars.

Speaking to MCN earlier today, publicity officer and trustee, Kirsty Lawrence, 31, said: “It was such a relief because – depending on how long this thing lasts – this year we are set to lose over £100,000 [in donations]. 

“The fact that we know our fuel cost is being taken away is such a relief because now we can concentrate on keep the fleet running,” she added.

Northumbria Blood Bikes in action. Credit: John Woodhead

“We are doing so many more miles on the road at the moment, so to have that fuel increase and then them cover it is brilliant.”

Away from road-going machines, it was also announced BP would provide free jet fuel to the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, the Wales Air Ambulance Charity and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

As well as relying on donations to survive, these airborne lifesavers often play a vital role in serious motorcycle collisions.

Speaking about the donation, CEO of Air BP, Jon Platt, said: “We are pleased to be able to play a small part and support these emergency service organisations as they continue to provide a critical service to communities in these difficult times.

“Our commitment to safe, reliable fuelling operations remains unwavering and we’re grateful for the hard work of our front-line Air BP operators who continue to enable us to meet the needs of our customers.”

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Acting News Editor, sportsbike nut, and racing fan.