New Blood campaign: meet the team

With early starts and late finishes, members of the Norfolk donor team are out collecting blood most days of the year.

The team, which travels the length and width of the county from Hunstanton to Thetford and from Wisbech to Gorleston, spends more than 250 days a year on the road meeting donors.

There are 25 staff in the team, including four nurses. The main team is out 205 days every year and then the Bloodmobile is out 148 days per year.

Pippa Trent from Hockering has been a donor carer for a year.

Her job involves packing the van, setting up for donor sessions, carrying out health care screenings and taking blood.

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'There will always be a need for blood,' she said. 'Obviously, at this time of year we know everyone is busy and has lots of commitments and other priorities, but there will still be patients in hospital who desperately need blood.

'It's perfectly natural to feel anxious if you haven't donated before. We're a very friendly and approachable team though and we'll always do everything we can to reassure you and put you at ease.'

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The 21-year-old said the best part of her job was to give someone a positive experience when donating.

'Everyone leads such busy lives these days and it's not always easy to fit in giving blood. I know we have had new donors come in who say it's something they've been meaning to do for a long time and never got round to – they wish they had started sooner,' she added.

Supervisor Dawn Walker knows first hand the importance of blood donors after her husband received a transfusion which helped to prolong his life.

The 52-year-old who lives in Heartsease, said: 'As a team we care about our donors and how they feel, and always strive to do our best for them.

'Last year, my husband was very ill with cancer. He received 14 units of blood between July and Christmas. Sadly, he passed away in January.

'The blood he received improved the quality of his life during those last months and gave us a little more time with him.'

She said that the need for people to donate was never-ending.

'This time of year there are lots of bugs and illnesses about. Also people have lots of other things to do. But our donors are really committed to blood donation and saving lives – they are incredibly loyal.'

David Trepte, 61, from Norwich, has been a donor carer for 20 years.

'A blood donor who has given more than 25 donations will have helped to save enough lives to fill a double decker bus. Each donation is split into its component parts and so each donation can help save the life of up to three patients.'

He said that those who choose not to donate because they are afraid it might hurt 'have nothing to fear but fear itself'.

Mr Trepte added that it was important for people to sign up to become a donor to replace those who cannot give any longer.

Chris Simmons, 55, who lives in Bradwell, has been with the service for eight and a half years.

She explained that donated blood is something that money cannot buy.

'It's such a personal gift to someone in need. We need more donors to help replace the donors who can no longer give and help to reduce the reliance on those existing donors who give very regularly.'

She said that the best part of her job is meeting new people and knowing that she is helping those who are very sick.

With some sessions being popular with donors, carer of 14 years Jude Atkin, advised people to book an appointment before turning up to a session.

'Sometimes there can be a delay for donors if we get extremely busy - but we always do the best we can to make things as quick as possible. It's best to make an appointment rather than just turn up, as we know you are coming and it helps us to ensure the day flows better for everyone.

'It is important that people give blood at this time of year. Hospitals need more blood as there is probably more accidents because of the bad weather.

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