Former England cricketer Steve Harmison has officially opened Blyth Community Hospital’s new volunteer-run shop and café.
The Ashington-born player cut the ribbon at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s new facility in the main entrance of the hospital and met volunteers.
It is the first time the trust has opened a shop at a community hospital and hundreds of people have made use of the facility since it started trading in December last year.
The Blyth shop, which is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday, operates in the same way as the trust’s premises at Wansbeck, North Tyneside and Hexham general hospitals.
Steve said: “I was pleased to open the new shop at Blyth hospital and meet the volunteers who do such a wonderful job and always have a smile on their faces.
“Being able to stop off for a cuppa when you’re attending an appointment or visiting friends and relatives in hospital makes such a difference to people.
“This is a welcome addition to the facilities here at Blyth hospital and I wish the venture every success.”
Around 20 people were recruited to volunteer in the shop last year, which is part of the trust’s Hospital Volunteer Service (HVS), and Steve met volunteers June Evans and Val Norris who were on duty.
Blyth Community Hospital has developed links with local cricket clubs after the Knight Memorial Hospital Cricket Challenge Cup was mysteriously found in a store cupboard at the hospital in 2013. Last summer, the cup was played for the first time in 75 years in a charity competition organised by Northumbria Healthcare and Northumberland Cricket Board.
Lynn McCormack, volunteer and charity development officer at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “We would like to thank Steve for taking the time to officially open our new shop at Blyth and it was fitting, given the cricket links to the hospital, that a former fast bowler did the honours.
“Since the shop opened to the public in December last year hundreds of people including patients, visitors and staff have made use of the facility and benefited from having the service at the hospital.
“We were really pleased with the response we had for volunteers for the shop and I would like to thank them all as they are doing an amazing job.
“We are always on the lookout for new volunteers and would invite anyone who has a few hours to spare a week and would be interested in helping out at their local hospital to get in touch.”