A LIFE-saving charity has held a “blood drive” to celebrate six months of a trailblazing initiative.

The Essex and Herts Air Ambulance has now been carrying blood supplies on board its helicopters and rapid response vehicles for six months.

To mark the anniversary, staff, volunteers and supporters from the charity donated blood at a specially-arranged donation session at the Community Stadium in Colchester.

The event also acknowledged everyone who has made it possible for the service’s critical care teams to be able to provide this potentially life-saving intervention.

In total, 55 donors attended over the four hour session including 20 new blood donors.

The partners who have worked with the air ambulance trust on the scheme include NHS Blood and Transplant, the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and the Essex Voluntary Blood Service, each of which was represented at the event.

Over the past six months 22 patients have received potentially life-saving transfusions from the air ambulance trust’s critical care teams.

Volunteers from Essex Blood Bikers have covered more than 24,000 miles delivering blood from Harlow to the trust’s bases at Earls Colne and North Weald.

The Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust is provided free of charge but, unlike NHS emergency services, the charity receives no direct funding from the Government or National Lottery.

It costs in excess of £750,000 every month to keep the service operational and cover all charitable costs.