A Great Wymondley man who has given blood and platelets more than 300 times over the last 25 years was among the dedicated Herts donors presented with medals at a ceremony in Luton.

Francis Tomlinson, a 62-year-old chartered surveyor, started rolling up his sleeve in 1990. He initially donated both blood and platelets, but he has only given platelets for the last 12 years, doing so once a month.

He’s now made a total of 312 donations, but it started off almost on the spur of the moment.

“My wife talked me into it after we passed a blood session taking place on our way home,” he said.

“The life-saving properties of blood and platelets, together with the ease of donating and the number of people who cannot donate for one reason or another, makes it difficult to justify why people do not donate.

“If people realised how many lives could actually be saved, they may think about becoming a blood donor.”

Guest speakers at the awards ceremony described how donated blood had been vital after a major hip surgery and during a life-saving operation on a perforated stomach ulcer.

Each donation of blood can potentially save the lives of up to three people but only four per cent of the eligible population are donors.

Michelle Laserna of NHS Blood and Transplant said: “I have witnessed the dramatic effect blood transfusions have had, both to my friends and to patients I have visited at work. These loyal donors are very special to us, which is why such as event gives us the opportunity to say a real heartfelt thanks. These donors are an inspiration to us all.”

Most people are able to donate blood – generally speaking the only requirements are that one is fit and healthy, at least 7st 12 lbs (50kg), and aged between 17 and 66. Established donors can continue until they’re 70.

There are four main groups of blood – O, A, B and AB – and a regular supply of all of them is crucial. Red blood cells only last 35 days, and platelets no more a week.