How a former Doncaster miner has saved hundreds of lives after signing up as a blood donor nearly 50 years ago

He’s a former Doncaster miner who has saved countless lives.

David Butterworth does not know exactly how many people are alive today it it wasn’t for him. But the 250 donations he has made as a blood donor will certainly have kept numerous people alive who would have died without his intervention.

David Butterworth, has been awarded after making his 250th donation. Picture: NDFP-04-10-18-Butterworth-1

David Butterworth, has been awarded after making his 250th donation. Picture: NDFP-04-10-18-Butterworth-1

The 72-year-old, from Arthur Street, Bentley, first signed up as a donor 47 years ago this week, on October 7, 1971.

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David Butterworth, has been awarded after making his 250th donation. Picture: NDFP-04-10-18-Butterworth-2

David Butterworth, has been awarded after making his 250th donation. Picture: NDFP-04-10-18-Butterworth-2

At the time we was working at Bentley Collery, a potentially hazardous environment, and a pit where many people died in two pit disasters.

In 1931, 45 were killed as a result of an underground explosion. And in 1978 seven died and 19 were injured when an underground train crashed.

David worked there from 1975 until 1994, driving a locomotive on the pit colliery site, and later working in the winding house.

In the 1980s he was among the thousands who joined the miners’ strike, He was not married so did not get strike pay, and surviving on help from relatives and food from a soup kitchen that had been set up at Bentley Pavilion. Throughout that difficult period he continued to donate.

When the pit shut in 1994, he went on to work as a logistics battery maintenance worker for a lorry firm in Harworth, before he retired in 2012.

David finally decided to give blood after speaking about it to a friend who worked for the fire brigade, in Askern, who said how important it was.

He said: “I knew others who gave blood too. I had a brother who had been in the forces, and it had been compulsory for him to donate blood as part of that at the time.

“At the time, my sister, who had also been a blood donor, had to stop because she was ill,  and she was quite upset about it. That was also one of the things that made me decide to start.

“The first time I went, I went to a Church Hall at Hexthorpe Bridge. I’ve given at various locations since then, including Bentley Pavilion.

“The first time I found it quite painful for a moment, particularly the prick they gave my finger at the start.”

Now, nearly five decades on, David is one of the biggest donors of blood in the country, having made 250 donations.

For the last four years, he has given platelets, rather then whole blood. It is a longer procedures, but allows donors to give more frequently.

Platelets are the part of the blood which causes wounds to heal.

He travels to Sheffield to give platelets.

He said: “I’m pleased to have been able to give blood for such a long time. Nowadays, they always send me a text to tell me where my donation has been sent. My feeling is that is helping people where ever it goes.

“I always think that if something happens and you need blood yourself, you expect it to be there. But it will not be there if people are not prepared to donate.”

The National Blood Service says each blood donation can be used to treat up to three patients – so David could have saved or improved the lives of up to 750 people.

Click here to find out how to give blood.