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Hospital’s new-look shop is lasting tribute to volunteer Harry

Friday, 03 July, 2020
Hospital’s new-look shop is lasting tribute to volunteer Harry

North Tyneside General Hospital’s new upmarket café has been named in honour of a much-loved volunteer who recently passed away.

‘Harry’s Café’, which opened this week, is a lasting tribute to volunteering veteran Harry Mercer, who died in April aged 97.


Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Bright charity has transformed what was a conventional shop at the main entrance into a space which can be used for social interaction and wellbeing activities for patients, staff and visitors, post COVID-19.


Staffed by volunteers, all profits from the café will be reinvested in the hospital to provide the extras that make a difference to patients, visitors and staff. Every year the shop raises more than £100,000.


Harry’s daughter Joan and her husband Chris attended the opening and were delighted that staff had requested that the new café should be named after him. Harry retied from his hospital volunteering role last summer after 35 years, bringing an end to almost seven decades of volunteering in his community.


Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Harry was a hugely-valued and admired member of our volunteering service for many years.


“He always cared about people and it seemed only right that we should name this great new facility after him. It is our way of saying thank you and keeping Harry’s memory alive.


“The café will be a very beneficial resource for our patients, visitors and staff – not only for the quality of the food and relaxing atmosphere – but for the friendly contact with the volunteers.


“We hope that Harry’s Café will be somewhere where people meet and support each other, and where new friendships can be made. I think that Harry would have liked that.”


The café is open 8.30am to 7pm on weekdays and 1:30pm to 7pm at weekends and is one of six across the trust managed by the Northumbria Volunteer Service. It also provides an opportunity for local food businesses to showcase their products.


Bright worked with award-winning interior designers Collective Design on the new café and it now boasts calming colours and relaxing décor. It also features landscapes by local photographer Matt Hale.


Designer Simon Mcilwraith said: “It has been hugely rewarding to work with the NHS for the first time – especially during the pandemic – to transform the old shop facility into something that you would normally only find in a high-end hotel.


“Harry’s Café is already putting smiles on the faces of staff and has raised a storm of interest from design professionals. It’s been great to work with such a forward-thinking trust to create a first of its kind for the NHS.”


To find out more about volunteering, email or contact 0191 203 1511.

Media contact:

Jaclyn Curry – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

0191 203 1654 / 07833 046680