IT IS the ultimate gift that can mean the difference between life and death.

But with blood stocks falling and the number of young donors signing up hitting an all-time low, the race is on to recruit 100,000 more donors in just 100 days.

The National Blood and Transfusion Service hopes 200 of those will come from Southampton and were at Hedge End retail park to achieve that target.

To help show just how important giving blood is, donors dressed as presents to meet recipients, including Steph Robinson, who as reported in the Daily Echo this week had her life saved by the selfless act of those who take the time to donate.

The number of young donors has been falling dily over the last decade but the last 12 months saw recruitment from 17 and 18-yearolds drop by 50 per cent.

Jon Latham, from the service, said: “The number of young people donating has been falling for a decade and we now need 100,000 donors to sign up in the next 100 days to start addressing the shortfall.

“We welcome new donors of any age, but a failure to boost the number of young donors now will put a strain on the blood service in the years to come.”