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Issue 312 – Best foot forward for blood donation

A student from Upper Vobster has literally shed ‘blood for blood’ by walking approximately 630 miles around the South West coast path to raise awareness for blood donation, following his late grandmother’s need for transfusions as part of her leukaemia treatment.

Ryan Watts, who has just finished his MA in experimental archaeology at Exeter University, put on his walking boots and left South Haven Point in Poole on 30th August carrying just a rucksack and tent, with his family dog, Meg, for company.
Each night he mainly slept on the coast path or a nearby camp site, and after a very long month of varying weather and scenery, he finished his mammoth walk on 2nd October in Minehead on the north coast of Somerset.
Ryan said, “Although I already give blood I wanted to do something more. The aim of the walk was to raise awareness of the importance of blood donation but it was not an easy challenge. I have lost a stone in weight and have painful callouses on my feet caused by the friction in my boots.
“The first week was the hardest, it was hot, I was tired, aching and had huge blisters on my feet and felt like I couldn’t go on. I went and sat on a beach in Seatown with Meg and looked for some inspiration. Blood made such a difference to my grandmother that I felt it was important to continue my walk in honour of her and the donors that gave blood to help her.”
Ryan was further inspired by the people he met along the way, fellow walkers with a story to tell or blood donors who would stop to ask what he was doing as he walked past carrying a large flag with ‘walk for blood’ on.
Ryan added, ” I will be forever grateful to blood donors for allowing me to have as much time with my grandmother as possible. Despite the generosity of registered blood donors there is still a need for more to come forward.”
Alan Hardy, lead donor relations manager for NHS Blood and Transplant said, “We would like to congratulate Ryan for completing his walk in memory of his grandmother. As a blood donor himself he knows how easy it is to give blood. We are grateful to him for his dedication to NHS Blood and Transplant, he has shown people across the South West how important it is to donate and we wish him all the best in the future.”
It’s vital that blood stocks are kept healthy, especially over the winter months. More than 7,000 units of blood are needed every day in hospitals across England and North Wales to help treat those involved in accidents or people suffering from long-term illnesses like cancers or anaemia.
First time donors should be aged between 17-65, weighing at least 50 kg (7 stone 12lbs) and in general good health. If you’ve donated before, you can start again up to your 70th birthday and there is no upper age limit for donors who have donated in the last two years. To book an appointment call the donor line on 0300 123 23 23 or visit www.blood.co.uk
Left, Ryan donating blood at the Frome session pictured with an NHS Blood and Transplant donor carer.

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