THE courage and dedication of a fleet of motorcyclists has been highlighted by Freemasons in Cumbria.

In May the area was shocked by the death of volunteer blood transport rider Russell Curwen.

The blood biker died after colliding with a car in Lancaster, leading to an outpouring of grief and support from the local community.

Three new motorbikes recently donated to the blood bikers by local provinces of the Freemasons has now been supplemented with a donation of £400, following the death of Mr Curwen. The donation was made this week to John Walker, a volunteer rider based in Barrow.

He said: "The masons have been generous supporters of the blood bike scheme and we are very grateful for this latest donation."

Peter Schofield, chairman of the Furness and South Lakeland Freemasons, said: "The tragic death of Russell Curwen when he was on duty as a blood bike rider brings home to us all the risks faced by those who volunteer for this often life-saving work.

"We should all be grateful that are those who display such great public spirit in assisting our medical services.

"They enrich our communities.”

Blood bikers cover huge distances on their motorbikes, travelling hundreds, if not thousands of miles weekly. Although named 'blood bikers', they carry so much more to medical centres across the north west. They are tasked with transporting blood platelets, samples, donor breast milk, theatre equipment and anything else which can be carried on a motorcycle.

The Cumberland and Westmorland and West Lancashire provinces of the Freemasons recently donated three new BMW motorbikes, worth £60,000 in total, to the blood bikers.

Fleet manager for the blood bikers, Simon Hanson said, "Since my appointment I have been working to replace the fleet of 12 liveried motorbikes as most had done over 80,000 miles and some were over eight years old.

"The very generous donations by the Freemasons completes my renewal plan and will reduce the number of breakdowns we have been having with our old fleet."

Freemason group charity steward Richard Wilcock added: "The day to day running costs of the blood bikes scheme must be quite significant.

"Therefore in addition to our members having contributed to the purchase of the two bikes presented by Tony we also felt it appropriate to use our local charity fund to help with those everyday expenses."