Following two weeks of nail-biting voting as part of a Clarendon Square Shopping Centre competition, the public has spoken, and a son and his father have been chosen to jointly claim the title of ‘Hyde Hero’.
Paul and Alan Redfern who run Blood Bikes Manchester, a Hyde-based emergency volunteer service, have scooped the fantastic accolade – along with a Google Home device and Kindle – after Clarendon Square made a community appeal for stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things.
Founded in 2012 by Paul and a couple of his friends – with one adapted motorcycle available – the team has been working out of hours’ including weekends, bank holidays and three solid weeks over Christmas ever since to transport blood and blood products, vaccines, samples, donor breast milk and urgently-required medical supplies throughout Tameside and Greater Manchester.
Over the course of a few years, the life-saving charity has grown to a fleet of riders and drivers, switchboard operators and fundraisers – all of whom are volunteers based at home, with no paid staff or expensive premises to fund.
Steve Seymour, acting centre manager at Clarendon Square Shopping Centre, said the community campaign had been a wonderful experience to be part of. “Hyde Hero has been such a great success and reaffirms what we already knew, that the community spirit here is truly special.
“Congratulations to Paul, Alan and the Blood Bikes Manchester team for the tremendous contribution they make throughout Hyde and beyond,” he said. “This is an essential service that supports the NHS and we’re all really thrilled for them as it means even more people will be aware of the amazing work they do.”
The pair were nominated in the shopping centre competition by scores of people for their ‘continuous efforts to do good by others’, with one local lady describing Alan, who is retired, as a ‘perfect hero’ who still works day and night with blood runs, fundraising and ‘anything else he can possibly do to keep helping poorly adults and children’.
A shortlist of three was put forward for a public vote on the shopping centre’s Facebook page, with hundreds championing the charity. Paul recalls being speechless upon receiving the news about the final result. “I’m overwhelmed at the fact that we have been recognised for our work,” he said. “We are far from heroes, but if we can help the needy then we have done our job. We never know what’s around the corner and it may be one of our own family’s lives we are helping to save.
“Knowing that so many people are behind what we do spurs us on even more. We’re always looking to welcome more volunteers and would like to encourage anyone who is interested to please get in touch. On behalf of everyone at Blood Bikes Manchester, thank you to everyone who voted for us.”
Alan echoed his son’s feelings about this latest acknowledgement. “This has come as quite a surprise to us to say the least! We are part of an incredible community that looks after each other in any way we can. It’s just what we do, so this ‘Hyde Hero’ accolade is quite something and we are really touched by the appreciation showed.
“Heartfelt thanks go to our brilliant team of volunteers who work around their own jobs and lives to help keep Blood Bikes Manchester operational,” Allan added. “It’s not often that we get to express our gratitude to them so publicly, but this a wonderful opportunity to do just that.”
The other two finalists just pipped to the post in the competition were 10-year-old Darcie Holmes, who despite having her own complex health concerns organised a fundraising event to help another little girl who requires surgery. And, Christina Howard, founder of Sandwich Angels – a not-for-profit organisation which feeds homeless people across the local area and Manchester seven days a week.