A Teesside volunteer has dedicated a £5,000 charity win to the memory of his ‘hero’ dad who died in a tragic biking accident two years ago while delivering blood to help others.
Martin Dixon, 56, was a volunteer with Bloodrun EVS (Emergency Voluntary Service), a charity which sees bikers transport crucial blood supplies between hospitals.
Mr Dixon was collecting blood from the University Hospital of Hartlepool to take to the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton when his motorcycle was involved in a collision in November 2016.
Now his son, also called Martin, says he is proud to be carrying on his father’s legacy after receiving £5,000 for Bloodrun EVS from charitable movement Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
Although not a biker himself, 28-year-old Martin, a software developer for Bet 365, is the charity’s webmaster.
He said: “Dad always liked helping people and trying to do good, and he always liked motorbikes, so Bloodrun EVS was a perfect fit for him.
“That he was killed while delivering blood on a bike has spurred me on to get involved more and more.
“Until something like that happens, you don’t realise the massive community you’re part of, but blood bikers from all over the country – London, Cornwall, Bristol, Ireland – took part in his final ride that formed his funeral procession from his house in Billingham to Teesside crematorium.
“I was passionate before dad’s accident but he’s my inspiration now as far as the blood bikes go.
“It’s important for me that his legacy lives on in a way that he would have wanted it to, so it’s part of my daily life. I work full-time but every other hour of my day goes into making sure this charity is successful.”
Bloodrun EVS provides a free out-of-hours transportation service to move blood, medicines and other vital products between hospitals across the Tees region.
As the charity’s web man, Martin played a key role in helping Bloodrun win the £5,000 donation from Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, topping a public pull by just 15 votes from more than 2,500 cast.
After receiving a cheque with fellow volunteers from Foundation patrons Hunters estate agents in a presentation event at Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium, he said: “I’m lost for words really. Dad would be really proud.
“£5,000 might not seem like a lot to some organisations but to us it’s massive.
“We’re all volunteers in our own time – no-one gets paid – but £5,000 will cover a lot of our costs for a year.
“The bikes go through quite a lot of tyres – so far this year we’ve done about 78,000 miles and a set of tyres lasts about 2,500 miles. Naturally, if we don’t have tyres we’re not on the road, so this donation will help us to buy tyres at a discounted rate and keep our bikes on the road for many years.”
And Martin said his dad will continue to inspire.
“The publicity from Dad’s accident turned a negative into a positive because he has left a fantastic legacy,” he said. “Things have changed so much.
“The support from the local community and the school where Dad worked has been amazing and we’ve gone from about 20 volunteers to approaching 60 now – but we always need more because the demand is there.”
And following a £16,000 fundraising push, a bike was bought that now carries Martin Snr’s name in the form of MD1, “So he’s still out there every night delivering blood, doing what he used to do.”
Bloodrun EVS pipped South Tees Diabetes UK Family Group for top spot in the Philanthropic Foundation’s £20,000 Golden Giveaway poll.
The diabetes charity received a cheque for £2,500 from Jamie Brown of Foundation patrons Endeavour Partnership, while third place and £2,000 Harriet Spalding of property specialists Mandale went to Billingham-based Synthonia Scouts Group, who are fundraising for a new mini-bus as they celebrate their 90th year of adventuring.
Other presentations made at the Golden Giveaway event included £1,500 presented to both CAUSE Christmas Hamper Appeal and Teesside Samaritans, with £1,000 donated to charities Leo’s, Reagan Jack Rainbows and Coatham House.
£750 cheques were presented to Newport Primary School, South Cleveland Heart Fund, Grangetown-based Blaze and Butterfly Giving, while Hartlepool-based Families First, Age UK Teesside and St Timothy’s Church Hall in Hemlington received £500 each.
Others presenting the cheques were Philanthropic Foundation supporters Chantal Taylor of Castlegate Shopping Centre, Sue Theobald of Barclays Middlesbrough, Stephen Elliott of Endeavour Partnership, James Cole of ArtAV, Andrew Rowe of Baldwins Accountants, Liam McGuinness of Middlesbrough FC, Dave Carter of Carter Steel and Cllr Ron Arundale.