DEDICATED NHS staff are urging more people to sign up as blood donors and help give the gift of life.

To mark World Blood Donor Day, Cumbrian health staff have been getting out into the community to spread the word.

They chose the iconic Weeping Window poppy display at Carlisle Castle to pose for a photograph - but stress that donors are needed in all parts of the county, where stocks have been running low.

Each of the poppies symbolised a drop of blood.

Sharon Donald, senior sister with the Cumbria Blood Donation Team, said they travel the county to hold blood donation sessions and would value some new faces, as well as returning donors.

"We just want to raise awareness that we need more blood," she said.

"You never know when you or someone you love might need blood, so it really is vitally important to maintain those stocks.

"There's a big push on O-negative and B-negative blood types at the moment, though we need all different types. For those who do have those blood types we are urging them to bring along a family member too, as there's a high chance that they will have it too."

Nationally, NHS Blood and Transplant is looking to recruit about 20,000 new donors a month.

In Cumbria, they need to average about 300 donations a week to keep stocks up, and say newcomers are key to meeting - and hopefully exceeding - that target.

"We are just trying to recruit more blood donors so that we can constantly supply the hospitals with the blood they need," said Sharon.

"We have a really loyal donor base in Cumbria, but always need more. We are trying to recruit new members and make sure our regulars come back. We move around Cumbria each week."

As well as celebrating the 70th birthday of the NHS next month, the team are also celebrating their 25th anniversary.

To coincide, they are hosting a number of special donation events, where new donors can drop in without an appointment.

They include one at Whitehaven Golf Club on July 2 and Hundith Hill, near Cockermouth, on July 4, both between 3pm and 7pm.

Although appointments can be booked, people who want to make their first donation of blood can also drop in.

There will also be a mass sign up session at the Crown & Mitre Hotel in Carlisle on July 3 between 2pm and 6pm, where people can register their interest in donating ahead of future sessions.

To find out more about how and where to donate blood, and whether you are eligible, visit