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Young Farmers setting challenges to save lives

YFC members are no strangers to setting themselves challenges and one of the latest could potentially save the lives of hundreds of people in medical need. Danusia Osiowy reports.

Left to right: Lucy Phillips, Rhys Whittingham, Shula Gunter, Sally Richardson and Anna Mayo
Left to right: Lucy Phillips, Rhys Whittingham, Shula Gunter, Sally Richardson and Anna Mayo

Young Farmers across the UK are helping the nation by taking part in a blood donation campaign which is now entering its second phase.


The initiative is the result of a new partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant and the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, which have been campaigning since April this year to raise awareness of the importance of blood donation.


Spearheading the campaign is chairman Chris Manley, who yesterday donated his second round of blood at Leeds Donor Centre, along with a group of Young Farmers from Northern Area.


He is challenging Young Farmers from across England and Wales to register as new donors with the aim to recruit 500 new blood and organ donors this year.


He says: “Blood and organ donation does not cost the individual anything more than their time, but it has the potential to make a huge amount of difference to local communities.


“Doing good things like this in the local community will help put Young Farmers on the map.


“It would be great to see all YFC county federations get behind this partnership and compete with each other to register the most donors and help save the most lives.”

Blood donation criteria

  • Fit and healthy
  • Weigh more than 7st 12lb, or 50kg
  • Aged between 17 and 66 (70 if you have given blood before; over 70 and have given blood in the last two years)
  • Men can give blood every 12 weeks and women can give blood every 16 weeks
  • Women under 20 who weigh less than 10st 3lb or are shorter than 5ft 6in should take an estimate of their blood volume to see if they can donate; there is a handy calculator at
  • If you have an existing medical condition or have a question about your eligibility to give blood, you should or before you book an appointment
  • Go to for details on how to sign up

Michael Ives

Michael, 26, is a member of Edgcott and Winslow YFC, Buckinghamshire, and works for Claas UK in Suffolk. He returns to the family farm at weekends to help out with the mixed livestock and haulage business.


“My late mum has donated ever since I was small and I used to go along with her. When I reached the age of 17, I gave blood for the first time and I have not looked back.


I am a rare blood type [AB+, which is only 3 per cent of the population] and so I regularly get letters and emails to remind me to book an appointment.


My mother gave regularly and got to about 55 donations before she was confirmed to have motor neurone disease. We lost her in 2012 and I have felt it is my duty to carry on giving.


I found it harder to give during my time at Harper Adams due to bouncing between university and home, but I managed to keep giving and managed to recruit a few new donors during my time.


I have never needed blood myself and have been very lucky. I know of a friend who has needed blood following a complication of the birth of their son and a work colleague required blood as he had a kidney problem.


Young Farmers can make a huge difference, blood stocks need replenishing all year round and while cold and flu are causing problems in urban environments, the rural communities seem to be affected later and so can help keep up supply.”

Shula Gunter

Shula is the treasurer for Gwent YFC. Hailing from her family farm near Ragland, Monmouthshire, she is a maths teacher at Tonyrefail comprehensive school.

“My husband Ian Gunter and I were travelling to our home after a Young Farmers meeting in April 1999 when we were involved in a horrific car accident as a car met us on our side of the road.

The three people in the other car and Ian were killed, but I survived with terrible injuries.

On arriving at Nevill Hall Hospital, I received 28 pints of blood, three times the amount people have in their body, and I was transferred to intensive care for several days, then cared for on a ward for three months.

At the time, I was a member of Raglan YFC, and Ian belonged to Abergavenny YFC and was rally chairman for the year.

Gwent YFC was an immense support to me and our families during the time and the movement organised counsellors to support members following the accident.


I became joint chairman with James Saunders, Crucorney YFC, 10 years after the accident, and gave an award for the most helpful person during the lead up to the Rally, in memory of Ian.

I am unable to give blood now, but please may I encourage all YFC members and fellow farmers to join this campaign. It costs nothing, but it could save thousands of lives.”

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