Knitters raise thousands for NHS charity with baby clothes sold in hospital shops – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Kathy Nixon, from Stannington, started helping out in the volunteer service (NVS) shop at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington when it opened in 2015.

The retired mental health nurse, who switched careers later in life after being made redundant from her role as an insurance clerk and going back to college, is also a member of Cramlington Rotary Club.

She came up with the idea of knitting baby clothes when she started as a volunteer with the trust and roped in some fellow club members to join her. A core team of four knitters, with others brought in when products are ‘selling at an alarming rate’, create cardigans, matinée coats, blankets, romper suits, hats and mittens.

Sold in the NVS shops in the trust’s hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside, every single penny goes into Northumbria Healthcare’s Bright charity, which funds those things that the NHS does not.

The baby clothes have proved very popular, raising more than £8,000 since they first went on sale. The money raised goes towards improving the hospital environment, buying specialist equipment and providing the little extras which make a real difference to the experience of patients.

The trust’s head of charity, Brenda Longstaff, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and a clear example of just how much our volunteers contribute to what goes on in our hospitals and other sites.”

Northumbria Healthcare has more than 300 volunteers, who carry out a range of roles, from working in the shops to assisting patients at mealtimes and facilitating ward activities.

Kathy, 68, said: “I love being a volunteer. I thought it was a good opportunity to get involved when the new hospital opened and I’ve not looked back since.”

The trust is always on the lookout for new volunteers for its shops, meet and greet service and as befrienders at its different hospital sites. To find out more, contact the volunteer team on 0191 203 1511 or email

Lynn McCormack, Northumbria Healthcare’s operation service manager for volunteers, said: “I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in helping out at their local hospital to get in touch, as hours are to suit and our volunteers find that it’s an interesting, varied and worthwhile way to give something back to the community.”

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