Meet the UK’s oldest blood donor
The woman believed to be Britain’s oldest blood donor has saved countless lives after donating 130 pints of blood over 56 years.
Christine Newnham, 80, has not missed an appointment with her local blood bank, at the Coniston Holiday Inn, Sittingbourne, Kent, since April 1966.
The retired nurse has donated three times a year since she was 24 – racking up a staggering 130 visits.
Christine, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of two, from Sittingbourne, said: “I want to help people – that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
“I wanted to donate blood to help people in hospital who need blood transfusions.
”I have always sought to spend my life making people happy.
”When my little sister, Georgina, was born with learning difficulties, it caused her a lot of problems throughout her life.
”I was just a kid myself but it broke my heart.
“At the time, everyone was pushing people to donate blood, so I agreed and donated blood for the first time.
“I felt useful afterwards and didn’t look back from there.”
Christine first donated blood in April 1966 at Green Street Green Medical Center in Orpington, south-east London, and was quickly hooked.
She now donates as often as possible – usually three times a year – to her local bank, The Coniston Hotel.
Christine – who has a son, Paul Newnham, 52, a mechanic – said: “I was a nurse so the needles never bothered me.
“I was happy to donate blood. It made me really happy because I just want to save lives.
“It’s very simple to do and it doesn’t take a lot of time, so why not me?
”I’ve persuaded my son over the years to donate blood too.
”He gives as much as he can.
“I also met so many people at the donor center, I have so many friends there now that I can’t keep up.”
Christine saw the direct benefits of donating blood after a handful of her close family members fell ill and needed blood transfusions.
She said: ‘When my daughter-in-law’s father fell ill with a rare type of leukaemia, he needed many transfusions.
”It made me proud to think that people like me who donated blood extended his life so he could say goodbye to his family.
“He had more time with all of us and it was all down to blood donations, that’s an amazing thing.”
Christine is proud to be in ‘good health’ – she takes no medication and has not seen the GP for over four years.
She has two rescue cats, Elvis, nine, and Bella, eight, and is a doting grandmother to her grandchildren.
Daughter-in-law Maria Newnham, 56, who works in hospitality, said: ‘She is just amazing. Christine never wants to help others.
“He is the kindest and most generous person I have ever met.
“The grandchildren adore her and she never complains.
“She had hip replacement surgery two years ago and she hasn’t complained once.
”She just drank as much water as she could so she could recover and go home with her cats.
“I have never met a stronger woman.”
The cat lover – who was married to Eddie Gordon Newnham, 82, for 57 years until his death from an aneurysm in November 2018 – is passionate about raising blood donation awareness.
Christine explained: ”It takes less than an hour to donate blood and they are always so kind.
“You get a cookie and a cup of tea afterwards too.
”It doesn’t hurt at all.
”It’s just a scratch and you don’t feel much.
”It allows me to do my part and help save lives, it keeps me going knowing I’m still helping people even at my age.
“Once, two women approached me at the blood bank and thanked me for saving their lives.
“I was shocked and tried to explain that it could have been anyone’s blood, but they kept thanking me.
”It makes me cry every time I think about it.
“We just don’t realize how much that means to some people.
“It’s important that people realize that donating blood can mean the difference between life and death or that someone’s father has two hours or two weeks to say goodbye to family and friends.”
Chrisine – who sadly lost her sister, Georgina Webb, 76, to Covid a year ago – has since urged people to stay safe and do what they can to help keep them happy and healthy health.
Blood donation is quick and easy to book online. The average person will donate about a pint of blood for each visit.
The largest single person blood donation is veteran donor Fred Brailey, also in his 80s, who gave 135 times – just five pints more than Christine.
The widower said: ”You should donate blood because you are saving someone’s life.
“In the long run, you won’t feel anything, but it will help so many families in ways you couldn’t imagine. ”
Blood Donation UK has confirmed that Christine is one of the longest serving donors, but due to the length of her service keeping paper records makes it very difficult for them to give an exact position for her.
Do you have a story for us? You can contact us here.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to follow all the latest news.
Sign up for our newsletters to receive updates straight to your inbox.