When did you start giving blood?
Ian: I first donated when I was 18 probably because my dad was donating at the time so it was a bit of a family thing. I guess it felt like the right thing to do because other people I knew were doing it and I was healthy, the right age to do it and there didn’t seem like any reason why I wouldn’t.
Nicky: I started when Ian donated bone marrow. He was banned from donating blood for a year, so I said I would donate the pints that he was missing out on. I was so impressed he was giving bone marrow, I felt like the least I could do was start giving blood.
Why do you continue to give blood?
Nicky: I think now I’ve started I’ve realised how important it is and also it’s actually quite easy and doesn’t take that much time.
Ian: It really is so easy to give and giving 3 or 4 times a year is not a big hindrance to our lifestyle. There are usually plenty of sessions locally that are pretty well set up and simple to continue to book. The other reason that I keep giving is that I’m a stats geek and I’ve got my target of 75 pints in mind so I’ve got to keep donating until I hit that.
Nicky: He’s serious!
Do you go together to give?
Ian: Yes, partly out of convenience but also because the first few times Nicky gave she was nervous, like I was when I first gave hence why I went with my Dad. Every time we have an appointment now we book the next one straight away.
Nicky: I think it’s nice as something to do together, even though you’re in different parts of the room, it’s great for moral support. It’s just something we do together and sometimes we’ll make a morning of it. We quite often do it on a Sunday then go out for lunch afterwards.
Ian: Yeah that’s the good bit, getting the carvery on a Sunday afternoon!
Is giving blood a good community activity?
Ian: There are people that go and donate and just want to get in and out but it's quite nice to have a bit of chat and banter with the nurses, have someone there you’re doing it with and get to know others.
Nicky: We’ll often see the same people as we tend to go to sessions at the same time so you get to know those that go at the same time as you.
What if the church saw blood and organ donation as part of its giving?
Ian: I think it’s a fantastic idea. It’s a minority of people who give blood but there’s a huge amount of people who go to church.
Nicky: It could help give the church a more positive image. There are always such negative things in the press about the church but not if the church is doing something good and proactive and helping to care for the community in a real physical sense.
Ian, why did you become a bone marrow donor?
Ian: I signed up to be a bone marrow donor at university after meeting a team who were looking for people to join the register. With a history of leukemia in my family, my granddad had leukaemia and my mum has a form of leukemia, it felt like the right thing to do. I thought well, the chances are, I’m going to sign up to this register and nothing is ever going to happen. Most people who sign up will never be used, it's just getting your name on a list and ideally you’d have everyone on there to be able to provide the opportunity to help save someone’s life.
How did you end up donating?
Ian: I got an email just after we got married saying that I was a potential match for someone and whilst there was still a small chance that I would be needed I should go for some testing. I went through a number of tests, as did others who were a potential match, and it turned out that I was the one match, so then we had a bit of decision-making to do. It’s only when you come to actually donate that you have to make the decision; signing up to the register is easy because its putting your name on a piece of paper with a willingness to give. Nicky and I decided that the health risks were sufficiently minimal to me when balanced with the opportunity I had to be potentially saving someone else’s life, so we decided to go ahead and it had no negative impact on my health at all.
Is it difficult to give to a stranger?
Ian: I remember a conversation with one of my sisters around the time I was asked to give bone marrow. She was concerned about me donating and what it would do to my own health so asked me "Is one of the reasons you’re doing this because you’re hoping that if mum was in that situation then someone would do the same for her?" I said "Probably yeah." You do these sorts of things potentially on a selfless basis but at the end of the day, if I or someone in my family was in need, I’d hope they’d have the opportunity given to them by others who give. You’re only doing something for another family that you hope, if it was needed, would happen for yours.
Nicky: Like anything I guess you can’t expect it to be there for you if you’re not willing to provide it for other people. That’s were the responsibility comes for those who are able to give.
Ian and Nicky live in Southend, work in London and escape to the mountains for their holidays.