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by Alisha Welch

In their lifetime, one in three Australians will need blood or blood products; yet only one in 30 gives blood each year. But one Defence person is challenging this trend. In May, First Assistant Secretary People Solutions Neville Tomkins donated blood for the 250th time.

It was through a sense of obligation that First Assistant Secretary People Solutions Neville Tomkins initially decided to give blood. The year was 1976, and he had just started his tertiary studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.

“It was during orientation week that I saw the Red Cross van,” Neville explains. “Privileged to attend one of Australia’s best universities on scholarship, I felt a sense of obligation to help others in whatever way I could. Enjoying good health, I felt that this would be a great way to give something back to the community.”

And it’s that sense of wanting to give back that keeps Neville going.

“Donating blood fortnightly is important to me because I want to help people less fortunate than myself.


“Blood is the most precious gift you can give anyone; despite rapid medical advances in other areas, there is still no substitute for blood.”

Neville says he had planned to retire from regular donations when he reached his 200th donation, but was motivated to keep going for as long as he could after hearing the story of a young girl – the same age as his daughter – who had been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.

“She was the guest speaker at a presentation ceremony I attended and she shared her story of how blood donations had kept her alive,” Neville explains. “From this inspirational story, I committed to continue with fortnightly donations for as long as I could.”

On his 250th milestone, Neville says he is delighted to have been able to continue donating on a regular basis for the past 36 years.

“It is with a great sense of satisfaction that I have been able to assist so many other people in need, and potentially saved lives,” he says. “This is the very least I can do for our community.”

Neville encourages all Defence people to donate blood regularly.

2012 Blood Challenge

First Assistant Secretary People Solutions, Neville Tomkins (pictured here donating blood for the 250th time), is the APS Ambassador in the 2012 ADO Blood Challenge, the fourth of its kind.

Kicking off on September 1 and running through to November 30, the challenge informs Defence people about the importance of donating blood.

Army took out the title in 2011, with 767 donations, while Air Force came second with 577. Navy were third with 424 and the APS came last with 388 donations.

Blood donation centres are located in the same areas as Defence establishments, so it is quite easy for Defence people to give blood.

For more information about how and where to donate blood, visit the Red Cross website at www.redcross.org.au