Alan Bruce, an electricity rapid responder at Northern Powergrid, has been exchanging his company vehicle after work for a high performance motorbike to support the NHS during the pandemic.
Alan, who has worked for more than 35 years for the company responsible for the electricity distribution network that’s powering homes, hospitals and supermarkets across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire during the pandemic, is also playing a vital role as part of the team at Northumbria Blood Bikes.
Alan, who work shifts as a Northern Powergrid ‘rapid’ and is dispatched into communities if there’s a power cut to help identify the cause, restore power or provide information to mobilise additional electricity network restoration teams, has been a qualified blood bike rider since February (2020).
As part of his volunteering role Alan helps deliver essential blood and urgent medical supplies, out of hours, between hospitals and other healthcare sites across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Darlington. During the pandemic, he is also playing a key role securely transporting COVID-19 samples between North East Hospitals.
Alan, who lives in Cramlington and is based at the network operator’s Follingsby office, said: “I’m a keen biker and while working in the early hours I spotted one of the charity’s distinctive high performance branded bikes and decided to read up on the fantastic work Northumbria Blood Bikes does.
“I spotted that they were looking for volunteers so decided to take my Advanced Rider Course, which is a must for all Blood Bikers, and applied to join. My role as part of Northern Powergrid’s rapid response team means that I have shift patterns which enable me to safely combine both roles. I really enjoy being a Blood Biker and it fits in with my lifestyle. It combines the thrill of riding a top spec bike with the feel good factor of helping a worthwhile local charity and supporting our NHS when it needs us most.”
Kirsty Lawrence, publicity officer at Northumbria Blood Bikes, said: “Since joining us Alan has quickly become one of our valued volunteers. He regularly covers shifts serving our NHS. We are incredibly grateful to each and every one of our volunteers - as are those who we support especially during the current situation.”
Outside normal office hours, hospitals often rely on taxis or couriers to transfer urgent medical supplies or test samples between hospitals and other sites. Blood Bike groups, across the country, offer to carry out this service free of charge, ensuring the limited resources of the NHS can be used where it makes a difference.
Northumbria Blood Bikes' funding comes entirely from charitable donations, and the service is provided solely by volunteers, giving their own free time to help others. In critical situations, blood or other medical items need to be delivered urgently in order to save a patient's life. Blood Bikes, with their distinctive livery, emergency lights, and narrow profile, can quickly get through busy traffic to reach their destination.
Andy Bilclough, Northern Powergrid’s director of field operations, said: “Alan could not have become a Blood Biker at a more critical time, joining this valuable charity just as the UK started to see the first impact of the pandemic. We’re already very proud of what he - and his colleagues - do as part of Team Powergrid to power our customers’ lives and support the communities we serve, so to find out Alan is going above and beyond outside of work is a credit to him and we applaud his dedication.
“During the pandemic we’ve seen many of our colleagues volunteering hundreds of hours to support local communities across our operating area and helping charities that support the NHS and local vulnerable people. This spirit and commitment to being there 24/7 for the communities we are part of embodies what it means to be part of Northern Powergrid.”
Alan is one of an army of volunteers who deserve to be recognised this Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June). Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. Although the coronavirus pandemic has stopped many of the things people would usually do, it has provided lots of opportunities to get involved in volunteering.
Northern Powergrid supports customers who may be more vulnerable through its free Priority Services Register. Any customers who may need additional advice or support due to their medical circumstances, or are currently ‘shielding’ in line with government and public health advice, may wish to consider joining by visiting northernpowergrid.com/cares or calling 0800 169 2296.
The company’s electricity network continues to operate as it should with Northern Powergrid inspecting, managing and maintaining its network so it provides a safe and reliable service.
Ensuring it continues to power customers’ lives and provide a safe and COVID-19 Secure working environment for its people remains Northern Powergrid’s priority. The network company continues to follow latest government guidelines so it can support its customers and the communities it serves and deliver its key role in society throughout each stage of the pandemic and lockdown easement.
Northern Powergrid continue to remind people that they should only approach its teams in an emergency – and always maintain social distancing. Anyone needing support can contact Northern Powergrid 24/7 on social media (Facebook or Twitter @NorthPowergrid) or by calling 105. Its website also provides information and advice to support customers if they need to report a power cut.
To find out more about how Northern Powergrid and how its people are powering the region during the pandemic visit northernpowergrid.com/coronavirus or follow the network operator on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.