More than 450 people attended an organised swab day to see if they were a suitable stem cell match for a 24-year-old man with leukaemia.

Ben Collins, from St Albans, found out on Christmas Day he had T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL).

Hundreds were at the Old Verulamians Rugby Club on Sunday.

“It was just incredible. I really didn’t expect this,” said his mother Katrina Collins.

“I had dreams that no-one would turn up, or we would be flooded, and that’s what it’s been like.

“I can’t believe it.”

Ms Collins said her son, who now lives in nearby Hemel Hempstead, had been “struggling” recently as a German donor had been found – but the arrangement fell through.

She said it was “devastating”, so the search began to find another volunteer.

“You just feel so much warmth from the community,” she added.

“I didn’t realise that everyone would take this on board and go with it, it’s just so heart-warming – it’s amazing.”

To find out if anyone is a match, three swabs are taken, which take roughly a minute each. 

“We need lots and lots more people on the register,” she said.

Anyone aged between 17 and 55 can also order an online kit by contacting the charity We Delete Blood Cancer.

Alex Russell, 18, said he wanted to have his swab taken as there had been a history of cancer in his family and he said it was “super easy, like a Covid test”. 

“You are making a real contribution to someone’s life,” he explained.

Samantha Gardner, 53, brought five family members with her.

“I told all my kids they had to come and do it, as if we were in the same boat, we would hope other people would do the same.”