DEDICATED blood donors who have helped saved thousands of lives over the last 50 years have been recognised for their commitment.

Durham donors Christopher Rowe, 72, Norman Stephenson, 72, Jacqueline Watson, 69, and Marian Ferguson, 75, have all reached their 100th blood donation.

Ms Watson, a retired nurse from Pity Me, said: “As a nurse I saw so many people helped by receiving blood transfusions. It’s very worthwhile, a precious gift that costs nothing and does so much good.”

The lifesaving efforts of 38 blood donors, who had collectively made 4,850 donations, were honoured with commemorative medals at the ceremony at Lumley Castle.

It was also attended by Claire Smith, 30, from Chester-le-Street and her daughter Farah, three, who needed 33 blood transfusions during treatment for a brain tumour.

She said: “As a family we had never given blood before, and in all honesty we weren’t really aware of its importance until Farah had surgery and we were informed by the surgeon of the amount of blood she had required.

“For this reason, I really wanted to give blood and gave my first donation last year. I would encourage anyone who can to donate blood as you never know when you or a loved one might need it.”