SHOPPERS have helped a blood biker charity bag a five-figure cash boost through a supermarket’s community funding scheme.

SERV Wessex has earned a £15,000 windfall from the Tesco Bags of Help Centenary Grant initiative.

The project was set-up to mark the supermarket giant’s centenary year. Along with Groundwork UK, a federation of charities that supports communities in need, the retailer delivered a special voting round of its community funding scheme which saw grants of £25,000, £15,000 and £10,000 awarded to community projects.

Shoppers voted for their preferred charity by dropping blue tokens in one of three boxes, with SERV Wessex part of the trio shortlisted for the Hampshire and Dorset region.

And after finishing second in the vote, the charity has been awarded a grant that will help to pay for a new blood bike.

Charity treasurer, trustee and blood biker Tim Bennett said: “Thank you to all of the Tesco customers who voted for us during the voting period by putting their blue tokens in our box.

“The money will make a significant difference to our charity and allow us to fund another blood bike.”

SERV Wessex provides a free service to the NHS in Hampshire, Dorset and South Wiltshire, delivering blood and urgent medical samples to the NHS. The service is provided 365 days a year.

The charity also provides a continuous service to resupply the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, based at Thruxton, with the blood and plasma carried on the aircraft and in their critical care cars.

During the day an ad hoc service is provided to collect and deliver human baby milk to local hospitals and transport heart monitors.

Yearly the charity averages 170,000 miles on duty and they carry out approximately 2,500 deliveries free to the NHS.

Of that mileage, 77 per cent is typically covered by their volunteers using their own vehicles and paying all their own fuel and costs as the charity only has a small charity fleet.

The funds gained from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative will therefore ease the financial burden on our volunteers providing this service.

Tesco head of community, Alec Brown said: “Bags of Help contributes funds to community projects up and down the country and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from customers voting in their local stores. We’re looking forward to seeing more projects brought to life.”

Groundwork’s national chief executive, Graham Duxbury said: “Bags of Help continues to enable local communities up and down Britain to improve the local spaces and places that matter to them. The diversity of projects that are being funded shows that local communities have a passion to create something great in their area. We are pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to help local communities thrive.”