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KIERAN HOWARD: Thanks very much for the hand, foot and mouth disease Louie

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Every year we support a cause and get behind a campaign over Christmas time.

Last year it was helping to feed those in need.

And in previous years it’s been collecting toys for children.

But this festive season we’ve decided to back a drive to get 200 new blood donors to give the gift of life this Christmas.

While the NHS Blood and Transplant organisation says it has enough stocks to cope, it needs ‘new blood’ to help patients in the future.

The statistics are clear: the number of new donors is on the decrease in most parts of south Hampshire.

The Havant borough is the only place which has recorded a rise year-on-year.

So we are happy to back the campaign – and we aim to hit the 200 target by Christmas Eve.

All we need is help from our readers!

It’s amazing just how easy it is to give blood.

As long as you meet the correct criteria there really isn’t anything stopping you from putting your name on the register and giving blood on a regular basis.

Yes, people have busy lives, but stop and think what would happen if it was an emergency and you or a loved one needed blood?

Today we feature the story of little Jude Allen on page three.

He needed eight units of platelets after being born premature at 28 weeks.

Without that, he probably wouldn’t be here today.

As his mum Kellie says: ‘The blood donations saved his life.

‘When babies are that tiny they are so dependent on donors.’

Still not convinced or scared of the procedure? Then read the piece by reporter Sheanne Mulholland on page nine.

She went along to one of the blood donor sessions in Southsea and gave her donation.

She had only previously given blood twice in her life and so was slightly apprehensive.

But as she says there was nothing to worry about and ‘in a flash it was done’.

Her donation will now help up to three people.

So, what’s stopping you?