Angels on wheels volunteer to save lives

Biker Stewart Priest is part of a team who give up their spare time to run a free, life-saving medical transport service for the NHS.

Who set the service up in the first place?

The service was started by Jason Kelly. One of his family members was a patient at the old Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow and while he was visiting he noticed a lot of medical transporting being done by taxis and couriers at a cost to the NHS. So he got in touch with the NHS to see if he could help. We got our charity number in 2011 .

How did you get involved with the service?

I work in the IT department for the NHS Glasgow and Clyde . I had seen members of the Scottish Emergency Rider Volunteer Service around and it was something I was keen on doing. I am a firm believer that if you have the time or capacity to give something back, you should do it.

So what does the charity do?

We operate a 24/7 service from our base at the Southern General, transporting everything but the patient at no cost to the NHS – medical equipment, blood samples, vital drugs, donated breast milk, neonatal units and more, throughout Scotland. We also operate a midwife transport service. It means the money the NHS is saving on transport can be put directly back into patient care.

How many bikes do you have in service?

We have five bikes, which are basically ambulance bikes, similar to police issue bikes with sirens and lights. They come directly from BMW, the manufacturer. We also have a couple of cars, because you can’t transport medical equipment or midwives by bike.

Do you only work across the Glasgow area?

We actually work across 14 different health boards in Scotland at the moment and just recently we had to do a run to Manchester for pharmaceuticals. We also did a run to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Are you looking for volunteers?

We are always looking for volunteers, not just those who are able to ride the bikes and drive the cars, but people who are interested in doing fundraising events for us. If anyone feels they have something to offer, we would be very interested in speaking to them and having them help us in some way. We do offer training – drivers and riders have to go through advanced driving and riding training, and there are other NHS procedures that volunteers have to know about.

How much money do you have to raise to run the service?

As much as we can. Basically we do this at no cost to the NHS. The vehicles have to be purchased, they have to be kept on the road, fuelled and insured. Radio equipment needs to be bought and maintained as well. It is a lot of money every year. We do a lot of outdoor events to help raise cash. All of the events we go to, the money we raise goes to funding the service.

If you would like to get involved with the service in some way, visit

(This feature was originally published in 2015)