Vandals forced donor session to close

By James MortlockA BLOOD donor session had to be scrapped after vandals climbed on to a community centre roof where dozens of people were waiting to boost “desperately-needed” stocks.

By James Mortlock

A BLOOD donor session had to be scrapped after vandals climbed on to a community centre roof where dozens of people were waiting to boost “desperately-needed” stocks.

The disappointed donors were turned away and the session abandoned with two hours to go after the youths put their own safety and that of people queuing at risk by climbing up to glass windows in the roof.

It was the latest in a string of vandal attacks at the St John's Community Centre in Mildenhall, where windows had already been smashed in the days ahead of the blood-giving session.

Bosses at Forest Heath District Council, which owns the centre, condemned the latest incident.

Council spokeswoman Sally Rode said: “This blood is desperately needed and these youths stopped this session two hours ahead of time.

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“If they had fallen through the windows, they could well have been the ones who needed the blood.”

She added the youths had climbed on to the roof and started making threatening gestures to staff.

“Not only were these youths putting themselves in great danger, but they caused a valuable community service to be scrapped ahead of time,” said the spokeswoman.

“We are now working with police and will be taking action by putting barbed wire barriers up to stop these youths getting on to the roof again.”

She added the problem at the blood donor session, which happened on Friday afternoon, had been the third such incident there in only a few days.

Ruth Greenaway, communications officer for the National Blood Service, said the decision to abandon the session had been taken because the safety of staff and donors had been threatened.

“There were glass panels in the roof, so the sister in charge decided to close the session at 5pm. We probably lost about 50 donations, but we managed to get 67 people through before we closed,” she added.

“We were very sorry to have to turn anyone away and every session is very important, but in light of the children playing on the roof, the safety of our staff and donors became our greatest concern.

“We really want those who were unable to give blood on Friday to come along to the next session.”

One donor who was turned away criticised the “disgusting and reckless” behaviour which scuppered the session.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “It was terrible that these youths did this - we're always being told how important it is to give blood and then something like this happens.

“It's hard enough to encourage people to go along in the first place, the last thing the service needs is stupidity like this.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said officers had attended the scene, concerned the youths would fall through the glass windows.

She added the youths had fled before the officers had arrived, but pledged the incidents at the centre were being investigated.

The next blood donor session in Mildenhall will be held at the Jubilee Centre in Recreation Way on June 5. Donors can go along between 1pm and 3.30pm or between 4.30pm and 7pm.

Anyone who wants more information about giving blood should contact 08457 711711 or go to the website at .