YOUTH charity boss Alan Bell has told how symptoms just before Christmas he put down to “man flu” turned out to be an aggressive form of leukaemia.

The Dunbar resident, who has been at the helm of Tranent's youth and community service Recharge for 11 years, was shopping in the Dunbar Asda store when he collapsed and was taken to hospital.

There, they discovered his symptoms were being caused by acute myeloid leukaemia.

Now Mr Bell, who has been overwhelmed by messages of support as news of his condition has spread, is urging people to give blood or sign up to become an organ donor after experiencing the work of the NHS firsthand.

Mr Bell, 35, told the Courier: “The diagnosis came as a bit of a shock.

“I had been struggling for a bit with what I thought was man flu but a few days before Christmas I was getting a final bit of Christmas shopping in Asda and I collapsed.

“An ambulance was called to take me to hospital where they found I was severely anaemic.

“I cannot praise the staff at Asda enough and everyone at the hospital – they were fantastic.”

The Recharge boss has taken time out from his post as he undergoes chemotherapy.

Acute myeloid leukaemia is a blood cancer which can affect the body’s ability to produce white blood cells properly, leaving its defence system vulnerable.

Chemotherapy treatment and, in some cases, a bone marrow transplant are needed to fight the condition.

Mr Bell said that he expects to have a number of rounds of chemotherapy to “flush out” the cancer before a decision is made over the need for a transplant.

And he has been supported by Macmillan Cancer Support as he undergoes his first round of the treatment.

He said: “So many people have been in touch asking what they can do to help and I am asking them to consider becoming a blood donor or signing up to a bone marrow donor list.

“It is when you see firsthand the amazing work being done by the NHS and what is needed that you realise how important it is to support it.”

And Mr Bell, who works alongside fellow Tranent resident Scott Glynn, who sits on Recharge’s board of directors and underwent a liver transplant last year, also urged people to register as organ donors.

Mr Bell, who is also on the committee of Mr Glynn’s charity the Walk With Scott Foundation, added: “All these actions are important and can save lives.”

Simon Davie, manager of Fa’side Area Partnership, was among those wishing Mr Bell well.

He said: “Alan is well-respected and valued in our community.

“It’s testament to him and the work that he does just how many people have contacted me to pass on their wishes of support to him for a speedy recovery.”

Meanwhile, Donald Grant, a former councillor and now chairman of Fa’side Area Partnership, added: “Having worked with Alan over a number of years, both as an elected member and as chair of the area partnership, I know the value of the work he does in our community.

“I am sure our community wishes him a speedy recovery.”

Scott Glynn, who is chairman of the Recharge board, said he had been in regular contact with Mr Bell.

He added: “I’m on the phone to him every day.

“He is a good friend of mine and we are in touch every day and I tell him to keep his chin up.

“He was there for me – it is only right that I am there for him. Mates are mates.”