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The Milk Run – A Story of a SERV Volunteer
I first became aware of SERV, in September 2010 when my daughter gave birth to her daughter Maggie.
Unfortunately Maggie didn’t wait to go full term and decided to come into the world at 24 weeks. She was born at Guildford Hospital, but rushed to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit at St. Peters Hospital, Chertsey.
Maggie was very poorly, requiring a number of transfusions. She battled for 19 days, but in the end, her underdeveloped lungs and an infection took her from her Mum & Dad, and from the rest of us.
Although I saw these gallant knights constantly arriving at St. Peters, I was to preoccupied, at the time, to appreciate the job they were doing, and the contribution they made in Maggie’s care. However I made enquiries to find out how I could get a job doing this.
After all, I had been a motorcyclist as soon as I could at 16 years of age (which, to those of you who know me, it wasn’t recently). I had also had some of the best training that Sussex Police gave me and I was looking for new directions.
Giving something back:
I was astonished when I learnt that these riders were all volunteers, and not employed to make these deliveries.
It made me even more determined to join this group of hero’s, and ‘put something back’ for all the hard work that the Doctors and Nurses gave not just to Maggie, but to everyone, in all the hospitals, all over the country.
So, I joined SERV Sussex, and am now one of many regular volunteers, delivering Blood and Blood products to those Hospitals requiring a ‘Top Up’ to their reserves.
I was also fortunate to be in a position to assist a small group of volunteers who are able to be available during the daytime to offer a delivery and collection service to the UK Association of Milk Banks.
The transporting of the milk:
In Sussex, that would usually mean collecting treated, donated milk from either St. Peters, where for me, it all started, or Queen Charlottes Hospital in London and deliver the consignment to the Trevor Mann Baby Unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton.
Unlike the Blood requests, milk deliveries can usually be pre-arranged, without the emergency that there generally is with Blood. Although earlier on this year I had an urgent call to collect a quantity of milk from Chertsey and take it to Brighton, as quickly as possible, as they had had three sets of triplets born that weekend and were extremely low on treated milk.
We have, on occasions attended donors home addresses and collected their donated milk and taken the untreated milk for storage at Brighton. At some point, we would be taking this untreated milk to St. Peters, or Queen Charlottes in order for it to be pasteurized.
SERV Sussex are now regularly completing three runs per week, often taking untreated milk to either treatment centres and bringing back a consignment of treated milk. As with our Blood Deliveries, this is at no cost to the National Health Service.
We have also had to introduce larger insulated boxes to transport these milk consignments, as can be seen from the comparison photograph.
Each batch of bottles is approximately 80 bottles and we can fit two batches into these new, bigger boxes.
It’s unfortunate that the hospital wards that we either collect, or deliver to, are usually at the top of the buildings, in the case of the Trevor Mann Unit, it’s on the 14th floor!…
…Luckily the lift has never been out of order, that I’m aware of.
The UK Association of Milk Banks first came into being in 1935, but was officially established in 1939, but UKAMB, as it is today was formulated in 1997, and is a registered Charity in it’s own right.
Originally funded by ‘The National Birthday Trust Fund’ but is now funded by Imperial College Hospital NHS Trust. There are now 17 Milk Banks in the UK.
Each Bank can serve between 1 & 36 Neonatal Intensive Care Units, taking care of over 400 premature babies per year, and processes in excess of 700 litres of donated milk annually.
The whole process, from donation to storage, delivery and use is regulated under National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.
Donated breast milk helps babies in need to get the best start in life and is the ideal food for babies.
The goodness of breast milk:
It contains all the nutrients (at least 400) that a baby needs and contains hormones and disease-fighting compounds which cannot be found in formula milk.
In addition, giving breast milk to premature babies protects them against a life-threatening gut infection, Necrotising enterocolitis, and helps their development in the long term.
The national human milk banking service is not financed by government funds.
If you want to know more, or are in a position to donate, click here for more information.
SERV Sussex are proud to help support this vital service.
Roy Stagg is 61 years of age and has served 31 years with Sussex Police having been posted to Gatwick Airport, Roads Policing Unit, Control Room, Rural Beat Officer, and Town Patrol Officer roles during my service.
After he retired, Roy entered the world of the Private Sector and was a Senior Operations Manager Manager for a Security Company.
He now runs his own Dog Walking Company. Roy Joined Serv Sussex in 2011.
To read SERV Volunteer Simon Morely’s story, click here.