Wednesday 19 June 2019

Peter's golden drop of blood

Ken Phelan

For a lot of people, the prospect of donating blood might fill them with dread but not so for one Skerries man, as it is something he has been doing for 57 years - an astounding 104 times.

Peter Holland (77) 'and a half', was recently awarded a 'Porcelain Pelicans' award at the Irish Blood Transfusion Service's Blood Donor Awards Ceremony in Kells, County Meath, in recognition of his commitment to the service.

Speaking to The Fingal Independent, Peter tells of his dedication to the cause: 'When I joined the guards in 1961, we were forced to do it.

'We would have been new recruits, and we'd have to give blood in the depot in the Phoenix Park. We had to give it and that was it, there was no way out of it. I missed a few years after that, but I'm still giving it now.

'Recently, when they were taking donations here in Skerries, a few of us had a cup of tea afterwards, and the others were saying: 'Peter, that's 104 pints of blood you've given over the years', and I said it was 13 gallons!'

Apart from a little arthritis, Peter says he's in the best of health, something he says is important when you donate blood regularly, and he is proud to point out that his doctor declares him fit to give blood every year. The only medication he takes, he says, is daily cod liver oil, and he rarely drinks.

Originally from near the 'wee little village of Louth', and living in Skerries since 1963, Peter at one stage worked as a caretaker at a local secondary school in Skerries, and used to recommend staff to donate along with himself, and says that even now, he'd often encourage people he meets to donate blood.

On one of the perks of blood donation he recalls, he said: 'They used to have little bottles of Guinness for when you gave blood, and that was great.

'You'd drink one or two while you were there, or you had a choice of minerals or a cup of tea and biscuits.

' But I wasn't too disappointed when they stopped giving the Guinness, because I don't drink at all now, apart from the odd glass of wine.'

A well-known figure in Skerries Community Centre, where he donates, Peter says he has got to know a lot of local people from his trips, although sometimes has problems remembering their names, a fact he puts down to having 'built the ol' mileage up!'

Proud of his achievement, and of the 'Golden Drop' award he recently received from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, Peter offers a few final words of advice for those nervous of giving blood or contemplating doing it for the first time: 'I'd tell people thinking of doing it, to try it out, because you'd never know who you might be helping. I've donated 104 times now, and it'll be 105 before Christmas, all going well.'

The prolific blood donor from Skerries, who shows no sign of stopping concluded: 'I was amongst the oldest at the award ceremony in Kells, and I'll continue to donate as long as I can. Sure it hasn't done me any harm.'

Fingal Independent