Article - 'Big Society' is alive and flourishing in West Dorset

IT is risky for a politician to admit that there is anything he or she does not like, since there will always be some constituent who engages in the activity in question and is therefore antagonised by any such admission.

But I think I really must admit that I am not, in general, very fond of motorbikes. To the intense annoyance of some enthusiasts in West Dorset, I have made considerable efforts to keep motorbikes off "green lanes" in our countryside. And my heart rather sinks when I hear the roar of a motorbike even on Tarmac roads.

The sad fact is that these machines tend to be noisy, and I prefer quiet.

Nevertheless, it is a fact of life that many people rely on motorbikes for vital transport to work, and they can also provide an affordable means of transport for people who would have genuine difficulty running a car.

What is more, these machines can sometimes be the fastest way of getting from A to B on our increasingly crowded roads.

So there is every reason to exploit the potential of motorbikes for the things they can do best and also every reason to encourage motorcyclists to ride these powerful machines safely - both for their own sake and for others on the roads.

I was therefore delighted to discover a few days ago that Dorset has been leading the way in both of these respects.

A remarkable combination of a police constable called Chris Smith and a trauma medic called Dr Ian Mew have put together a splendid project under the title "Dorset DocBike" which provides a fully-equipped motorbike to get the doctor very rapidly to the scene of an accident and is also used as the focal point for training other motorcycle riders to ride more safely and to administer first aid.

This is yet another example of the Big Society flourishing in west Dorset.

What is really remarkable about initiatives like this is that they spring up without anyone organising or mandating them, out of the sheer goodwill of those involved.

People such as PC Smith and Dr Mew deserve our special praise and thanks partly because they do so little themselves to seek praise or thanks or, for that matter, any other form of reward.

But there is also another reason why we should make a point of celebrating the social entrepreneurs who put so much time and effort into establishing and sustaining benevolent initiatives like the DocBike: the more we recognise these things publicly the more other people may be encouraged to follow the precedent in other domains.

Who knows whether, some reader of this column may just be tempted to put a toe into the waters of social enterprise as a result of discovering that PC Smith and Dr Mew are swimming so successfully in these seas?