In addition to working full-time on an IT service desk, advising businesses on their computer/network problems, Adrian volunteers for the Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) and The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Both roles see him taking part in a wide range of activities – from digging out muddy lock chambers to running festivals.
For the last nine years Adrian has also been a volunteer for the NIHR BioResource.
He fell into this almost by accident: a regular blood donor, he noticed that he felt unwell a couple of times after donating blood.
“I wondered if I could donate a smaller amount, and found out that the NIHR BioResource needed less than 50 ml of blood to join, instead of the usual 470 ml required for blood donation,” he says.
The fact that the NIHR BioResource helps researchers in their search for improved medical treatments also appealed.
Since signing up as a volunteer, Adrian has been in high demand to participate in studies: “I recently completed my 15th study. I am told this is the highest amongst volunteers.
“My latest study has been my favourite. I received a print-out showing how much fat is in each limb and my body core, which I found really interesting.”
“I’ve seen some of the studies I’ve taken part in develop into the next set of studies. The news sheets that I am sent are filled with facts that interest me.”
Adrian never feels under pressure to take part in a study.
“I normally receive a letter or email about the study and am given the option to phone, text, email or post a reply back to say whether I am interested,” he explains.
The majority of studies ask for a small blood sample of 50-100 ml, but one study has asked for a stool sample, which had to be kept overnight in an insulated freezer container before being collected by courier.
Other studies have asked Adrian to abstain from alcohol or caffeine for 24 hours and to fast for 12 hours.
“Following this a blood sample was taken and then I was given breakfast!”, he smiles.
Adrian doesn’t find volunteering for the NIHR BioResource time-consuming.
"Even the more complicated studies, involving height, weight and body fat measurements and blood samples, have taken less than an hour," he tells us. "And that included the time eating breakfast following fasting. In lots of studies, I have been out in under 20 minutes.
“The BioResource Centre Cambridge has a great facility next to Addenbrooke’s Hospital but, for some studies, staff even came to my home and work during the lunch break to take samples. They really will work around your availability.”
“Potentially these studies can save lives and stop people suffering," he explains. "The research can’t happen without volunteer donations.
“The BioResource has lots of friendly people working for them. They look after you well and if, like me, you don’t like the sight of blood the staff will put you at your ease and take your mind off of it. There really isn’t a reason not to take part.
We are all unique...
...so each of us can make a unique and valuable contribution to helping medical research