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Team at De Vere Venues Wokefield Park backing campaign to give blood

PUBLISHED: 16:04 20 June 2014 | UPDATED: 16:04 20 June 2014

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Staff at a country house hotel in Reading teamed up with NHS Blood and Transplant to encourage people to sign up to give blood and help save lives.

A blood donation session took place at De Vere Venues Wokefield Park, Mortimer, in memory of the Venue Director’s wife, who died in May after losing her three year battle against leukaemia.

During her treatment Mary Townsend had numerous red blood cell and platelet transfusions as well as stem cell transplants to help with her fight against the disease. She was just 50 when she and passed away on 10 May.

Her husband, Darren Townsend, said: “It’s about giving hope. Blood costs nothing, it’s just someone’s time and that time will give someone hope. Hope to be able to beat the cancer or to get through an operation. We are not asking for money, its just time.”

The blood donation session took place during a national campaign encouraging people to join the Greatest Team in the World and become a blood donor. There are always new places in the team available as NHS Blood and Transplant needs around 200,000 new blood donors to attend a session each year across England and North Wales to replace the team members who can no longer donate due to reasons such as ill health, pregnancy or foreign travel.

A mother’s story

Lisa Sykes, 43, of Mortimer, decided to support the need for new blood donors when she heard the tragic news about Darren’s wife. Miss Sykes said: “Blood and platelet transfusions were crucial during Mary’s fight against AM Leukaemia and it gave her extra time to spend with her family.

“For her daughters, Lauren and Abby, it gave them hope which meant so much. I have children who are seven and ten-years-old and I cannot imagine what it would be like for them to lose me at this age. Giving the girls three extra years of her life has been so precious.

“This is why we wanted to highlight the need for new blood donors to come forward. I started donating blood after I had my children and nearly needed a transfusion myself. I have also talked my partner into it. People think it takes all day or you can’t drive afterwards, but it’s not true. Donating blood is so easy - I would encourage everyone to sign up to become a lifesaver!

Who can give blood?

There is also a need for more young donors and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) donors to ensure we can continue to meet the needs of all patients now and in the years to come. Nearly half of those who have given blood over the last two years are over 45. And only 4% of our active blood donors are from BAME communities, while they represent around 14% of the population.

Dominic Sutherland, Lead Donor Relations Manager for Berkshire, said: “The number of new donors we need this year would more than fill the three stadiums England will play in for their three group games at the Football World Cup. Getting behind your team can feel really special. So can donating blood. Knowing that you’re saving and improving lives.

“In Reading we are asking people to join our existing donors who are already part of the Greatest Team in the World. To have the support of the staff at Wokefield Park is terrific and we hope many more people are inspired to sign up in Mary’s memory.”

In general, as long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg) and are aged between 17 and 66 (up to 70 if you have given blood before) you should be able to give blood. If you are over 70, you need to have given blood in the last two years to continue donating.

For more information or to book an appointment visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

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