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Top flight referee Michael blows whistle to open shop at new Northumbria hospital

Tuesday, 14 July, 2015
Top flight referee Michael blows whistle to open shop at new Northumbria hospital

Premiership referee Michael Oliver has today officially opened the volunteer-run shop and café at the new Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital.

Michael, who is from Ashington and now lives in Bedlington, cut the ribbon to officially open the facility in the main entrance of The Northumbria hospital in Cramlington and met volunteers.

Michael became the youngest referee in Barclays Premier League history when he took charge of Birmingham City’s clash with Blackburn Rovers in August 2010, and has remained a top flight official ever since.

Since The Northumbria hospital opened on 16 June, hundreds of patients, visitors and staff have made use of the facility, part of the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Hospital Volunteer Service (HVS).

Over the last few months, the trust has recruited around 70 local people to volunteer in the shop and café and for the meet and greet service which helps patients and visitors find where they need to be.

The hospital, which treats people who are seriously ill or injured from across Northumberland and North Tyneside, is the first of its kind in the country dedicated to emergency care. It has emergency care consultants on site 24/7 with consultants in a broad range of conditions offering services seven days a week, speeding up specialist care for patients to help save more lives and maximise chances of survival and a good recovery for more patients.

Michael, 30, said: “I am delighted to officially open the shop at the wonderful new Northumbria hospital – we are fortunate to have such an excellent facility here in Northumberland and North Tyneside.

“This new hospital has brought a real buzz to the area and it’s fantastic that so many local people are giving up their time to help others, whether that is by serving them a cup of tea or pointing them in the right direction of a ward or department.

“It makes such a difference when you’re visiting a loved one who is seriously ill to be met by a friendly face.”

Michael’s rapid rise up the Football League ladder culminated in being added to the Select Group of referees for the 2010/11 season. Prior to his time in the Barclays Premier League, Oliver was a Football League referee for three years after learning his trade with four years at non-league level.

In 2012, his quick progress was rewarded as he was elevated to the FIFA list of referees, making him now eligible to take charge of fixtures in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, as well as European internationals.

Oliver, whose father Clive was a former Football League referee, was in charge of the 2014 Community Shield match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Wembley.

One of the volunteers that Michael met at the opening was Angela Hewitt, of Cramlington. Angela retired from her job in security at Newcastle Airport two years ago and this is the first time she has volunteered.

The 66-year-old said: “My two grandchildren are getting older so I had more time on my hands and wanted to do something different and help others, and the opening of the new hospital on my doorstep was a perfect opportunity to get involved.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying volunteering in the shop and it’s fantastic to be part of a hospital that is leading the way nationally. I worked in a shop when I left school so it’s nice to be back doing that, although things have changed a bit in that time!”

Lynn McCormack, volunteer and charity development officer at Northumbria Healthcare, said “We were overwhelmed with the response we received from local people wanting to be involved in the hospital and we would like to welcome all of our new volunteers who are all doing an excellent job.

“We’d also like to say a big thank you to Michael for taking the time to open the new facility and wish him all the best for the forthcoming premiership season.”

The shop is Northumbria’s fifth HVS shop with premises at Blyth, Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck hospitals and the trust would like to hear from anyone who has a few hours to spare a week and would be interested in volunteering at their local hospital.

Money raised in the trust’s HVS shops goes towards improving the hospital environment and health services for the community, and providing the little extras which make a real difference to patients’ experiences.

Northumbria Healthcare has more than 900 volunteers across its sites as part of HVS who carry out a range of roles. These include meeting and greeting patients and visitors at hospital entrances, working in one of the HVS shops, assisting patients at mealtimes and facilitating ward activities.

For more information about volunteering and to register an interest, contact 0191 203 1352 or email

Michael meets volunteers Angela Hewitt (left) and Mary Irvine at the opening.