Thousands of lives will be saved this winter thanks to Evening News readers who pledged to roll up their sleeves and become blood donors.

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The Evening News’ New Blood campaign, which aimed to recruit 750 donors during December, smashed its targets today when it was revealed that a fantastic 939 people in Norfolk and north Suffolk had supported the cause.

Nigel Pickover, editor-in-chief of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, said: “I’m thrilled to bits. Giving blood is so important, and there can be nothing better than helping to save people’s lives.

“The NHS blood service needs our enduring support: not just through this campaign but for life.”

Just 4pc of the population who are eligible to give blood are registered donors – but around 7,000 units of blood are used every day in Britain.

The New Blood campaign, in association with NHS Blood and Transplant, also aimed to combat the fall in blood stocks around bank holidays and busy periods when people are preoccupied and forget to donate. Since the campaign was launched at the beginning of December nearly 1,000 of you have signed up to become donors – and many people have also contacted us to explain how vital that donation is.

Someone who knows better than most how precious blood supplies can be is mum Vicki Kerr. She needed more than seven units of blood after she gave birth to her son, Thomas, in 2005.

“I had a normal pregnancy with Thomas,” said Ms Kerr, who lives in Mill Street, Horsham St Faith with her partner, Adie Russen, 40, a plumber. “He was 10 days overdue but weighed 6lbs 10oz. I did have a tear and there was some blood loss but the problem was that the cord snapped and the placenta stayed inside me.”

Haemorrhaging blood, Miss Kerr, 36, a teacher at Hainford pre-school, was taken to theatre where surgeons spent five hours removing her placenta and transfusing around seven pints of blood.

“They couldn’t get the blood into me quick enough so they ended up transfusing it through the main artery in my neck. I was awake throughout the whole ordeal. It was horrific.”

Miss Kerr, who also has a five-year-old daughter, Ellie, was transferred to a high dependency ward where she stayed for a few days before she was released from hospital.

“I am very grateful to everyone who donated blood,” she said. “I went to the blood donor stand at the Forum to see if I could donate but unfortunately I can’t. If I could give blood, I would. Without the blood donors, I wouldn’t be here – it is so important that people give.”

As part of the New Blood campaign, a recruitment drive was held outside The Forum on Thursday, December 13. Fifty people showed their support and became blood donors.

Around 20 students from the Norwich School pledged to save a life after a talk from Georgina Norris, donor relations co-ordinator for NHS blood and transplant service, on Friday, December 7.

Rosie Howard, a lettings negotiator, was one of those who was inspired to become a blood donor after reading about the campaign.

The 34-year-old, who lives in Sir Edward Stracey Road in Rackheath, with her partner Will Palgrave-Moore and her four daughters, signed up to the donor register two weeks ago.

“It’s something I have always wanted to do but never got around to do it. I read about it in the paper and a couple of other girls at work said that they wanted to do it, too. We all signed up and our boss is keen as well.

“I have four daughters and I haven’t needed any blood but I know quite a lot of my friends have.

“I am looking forward to giving blood – I will feel a sense of achievement and I will have done something good.”

Jade Sloan, 21, who lives in Beeston, with her partner Adam Ward and their daughter, Holly, one, also joined the donor register.

Miss Sloan, who works as a foot practitioner, said she had wanted to be a blood donor for a number of years but was not sure how to sign up and get involved.

“I have wanted to be a blood donor for ages,” she said. “I never knew how to go about it. I saw the form in the paper and decided to sign up. I’m giving blood on Friday.”

She said after hearing about the blood service’s appeal to recruit younger donors aged between 18 and 25, she encouraged her brother to sign up too.

“I don’t know anyone who has needed a blood transfusion but if I was in the situation, I would want people to help me out,” she added.

Members of the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society swapped the stage for a bed when they showed their support for the campaign.

Thespians took time out of their rehearsals to meet the blood team’s mascot, Billy Blood Drop, who signed up new members.

Norwich City legend Darren Huckerby backed the campaign and called on people to join the blood donor register this year.

Darren, 36, said: “I fully support the campaign. I started donating blood around two-and-a-half years ago. As soon as I finished playing football I decided I would do it.

“I thought it would be a good thing to do and I could do it at Carrow Road so it was pretty easy to fit in and I have given blood ever since.”

He has donated eight units of blood – enough to save nearly 25 lives.

As well as recruiting new blood donors, the campaign also triggered former donors who had lapsed to sign up.

Sarah Daniels, 45, of Sunnigdale, Eaton, signed up to give blood.

The health and safety consultant said: “I have been meaning to do it for a while and I saw the campaign and signed up. It has been on my list of things to do for a while.

“I have given blood before but I haven’t been for years. I gave around 15 pints when I was a lot younger. Giving blood is habitual.” Mrs Daniels said.

“It seems like an easy thing to do and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t do it.

“We live in a rural county and we value our health service.”

She added that she would encourage her daughter, Jasmin, 16, to join the register when she is old enough.

To become a blood donor go to www.blood.co.uk

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