A TEENAGER whose world was turned upside down when he developed cancer is supporting a campaign to encourage young people to give blood.
Connor Councell, 17, from Woody Bay near Lynton, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) in his final GCSE year at Ilfracombe Arts College in 2011.
The disease meant Connor had to miss almost an entire year of schooling, spending most of his time at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.
During his time at hospital Connor received almost 30 pints of blood due to operations and six heavy bouts of chemotherapy.
The average human body contains around eight pints of blood.
Connor said: "It couldn't have come at a worse time, it was very awkward.
"I had just started my first term in year 11 when I was diagnosed and it took me out of school for almost the entire year meaning I couldn't take any of my GCSEs.
"However, I did manage to sit my English and maths exams while I was in hospital.
"The experience did turn my world upside down but not in the way you would expect.
"There's no controlling who gets cancer, I just tried to take it in my stride and not let it get to me."
Young people usually make up around 40 per cent of new blood donors but recently the number of people aged between 17 and 24 registering to give blood has fallen.
As part of an NHS drive to encourage more young donors, an event was held at Ilfracombe Arts College on Tuesday at which Connor was a guest speaker.
Connor, who is now coming into remission, said: "Giving blood is a brilliant thing to do and I have a few friends who do it regularly.
"One of my mates has also started giving blood after hearing what I went through in hospital.
"For me, blood donors made the difference between life and death and I would encourage anyone who can to have a go."
NHS Blood and Transplant spokesman Geraldine Parker said: "We are really grateful to the students and staff at Ilfracombe Arts College for signing up and supporting this campaign.
"We welcome all eligible new donors but especially need young people to come forward, they are the lifesavers of the future."
The next blood donor session in Ilfracombe takes place at the Landmark Theatre from Thursday, March 14 to Friday, March 15 from 1pm to 3.15pm and from 5pm to 7.15pm.
For more information visit www.blood.co.uk.