THEY are the unsung heroes.

Five dedicated Huddersfield blood donors, who have helped save the lives of hundreds of people, have been honoured.

All received special awards from the National Blood Service – after donating an incredible 375 pints between them.

To revise the immortal words of the late, great Tony Hancock: “375 pints? That’s more than an armful!”

Each of the long-serving blood donors have donated on at least 75 occasions.

With each donation potentially saving up to three lives it is estimated that collectively the group could have saved 1,125 lives over the last 45 years.

The awards were presented by Mark Wishart, whose daughter needed blood to save her life, to Robert Elmore, Colin Harris, Angela Tolson, Eric Lowe and Derek Hardcastle.

Among those receiving an award was Angela Tolson, a retired nurse from Shepley, who started donating as soon as she was able.

She said: “As a cadet nurse, one of my jobs was taking blood from the labs to the wards for patients. I wanted to be a donor because I could see the good it did but had to wait until I was 18.

“Over the years I’ve seen so many people saved by transfusions and working at Kirkwood Hospice seen blood give cancer patients a boost.

“That’s what has kept me going, it’s nice to give something back. I’ve always tried to encourage others to give it a go as well.”

Craig Taylor, spokesman for the service, described the achievements of honoured blood donors as ‘staggering’.

“Only 4% of people who could give blood actually do so and of that minority only a handful will ever reach such momentous landmarks – it really does take a lifetime of commitment.

“It is a great honour for me and everyone at the service to be able to recognise the achievements of these people in some small way. We will never truly be able to repay them for all they have done, but hope their award provides them with a constant reminder of how special they are.”

He said the NBS is constantly looking for more donors to come forward to help replace the 15% of people who are unable to continue giving blood each year due to age, ill health, or relocation.

In most cases, anyone aged 17 to 65, in general good health, who weighs over 7st 12lbs (50kg), can start giving blood. The entire process only takes around an hour in total, with the actual donation on the bed lasting on average 6 to 8 minutes.

To find out more about giving blood, to register as a donor or to find times of day when appointments are available, call 0300 123 23 23 or visit

There are 4 main blood groups – O, A, B and AB.

Group O is the most common and therefore the most in demand.

More than 95% of the blood collected is processed into its main components – red cells, platelets and plasma.

A regular supply of blood is vital – red cells last only 35 days and platelets only 5 days.