Berwick's Silver Fox riders gearing up to provide roadside first aid

Release date: 25 June 2018

Members of a popular North Northumberland motorcycling group for older people are set to learn new life-saving skills that could help them and fellow enthusiasts when they're out on the road.

The Silver Fox Motorcyclists group has been awarded a four-figure grant by Newcastle Building Society to pay for first aid training for around 25 of its members, which will enable them to assist in the event of one of their riders having a crash or the group coming across a road traffic accident.

The Berwick-headquartered group draws its members from across North Northumberland and the Borders, with at least 20 of them taking part in a group motorbike ride of up to 200 miles every Wednesday.

The importance of riders having some first aid knowledge was brought to light last year after one of the group was involved in a head on collision during a ride. While the rider was recovering in hospital, an introductory course was organised for members soon afterwards.

After being nominated by chair of the Silver Fox Motorcyclists John Bell, who is a customer at Newcastle Building Society's Hide Hill branch in Berwick, a £1,125 grant has been given by the Society to enable the group to buy first aid kits for each member and to bring in a first aid trainer with specialist expertise in the sorts of injuries they might expect to come across while out on the road.

The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society's branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.

The Silver Fox Motorcyclists group was formed in 2017 by a small group of retired riders who would meet up for informal rides out, and has quickly grown to have around 45 members aged from their early 50s up to 78 years old, with riders sharing responsibility for choosing the routes that the group takes each week.

The social side of the club's activities and the impact it has on tackling social isolation for older local people is seen as just as important as the days out riding, with a weekly breakfast group meeting taking place through the winter to enable members to still share time together when the weather's too bad to ride in.

John Bell says: “Riding so many miles means there's a good chance that we'll come across accidents sooner or later, either involving one of our members or other road users, and since we often choose to take some very remote roads, it could be quite a wait before the emergency services can reach the scene.

"Having had that first accident experience, we've all been keen to build up our knowledge of how we could help in such situations.  Bringing in a specialist first aid trainer means the skills we learn will be directly relevant to being on the road and will hopefully equip us to provide useful assistance if it's ever required.

"There's a real sense of community among our members, and this is especially so at the breakfast group meetings and other gatherings that we hold in addition to our group rides which we know mean a great deal to members.

"We carry out our own fundraising to help meet the group's running costs, but getting this sort of support from Newcastle Building Society means we can get on with this project far more quickly than would otherwise have been possible."

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £200,000 in grants to projects across the Society's North East and Cumbria heartland, and is so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 97,000 people.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the newcastle.co.uk website by customers who wish to support their local communities.  There are larger grants of up to £50,000 also available to assist groups in improving or maintaining community buildings.

Siobhan Younger, manager at Newcastle Building Society's Berwick branch, adds: “Quite a few of our customers have links to the Silver Foxes, and the enjoyment and companionship that the group's activities provide for its members is very clear to see.

“Giving direct support to the communities in which we’re based is central to the way in which the Society works, and we're very happy to be helping the Silver Foxes learn new skills which could help them and other riders while they're out and about."