Children on a hospital ward have been left heartbroken after a treasured Newcastle United shirt was stolen.
The shirt from 2002 had been signed by Alan Shearer, the late Sir Bobby Robson and other members of the team and presented to patients and staff at the Children’s Ward in North Tyneside General Hospital.
But staff were left shocked after noticing that the shirt had been taken from its frame in the play room on the ward.
The theft is believed to have taken place sometime between Monday, April 15, and Wednesday, April 17.
Newcastle United has a long-standing relationship with the ward, run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, with players visiting every Christmas to hand out presents while Alan Shearer opened the refurbished ward in 2002.
Ward manager Carole Clayton said: “We just can’t believe that someone would stoop so low.
“The staff and children are heartbroken and really angry and upset.
“We were so pleased that the shirt was donated to the ward and it has given pleasure to the thousands of families who have used the ward over the last 11 years – for someone to take this just beggars belief.
“We hope that someone somewhere has information about the shirt as we would really like it to be returned.”
A Newcastle United spokesman said: “Newcastle United were very disappointed to hear the news that a signed shirt has been stolen from the Children’s Ward at North Tyneside hospital and would appeal for its return at the earliest opportunity.
“We’re told the children love looking at the shirt and often try to identify the names of the players, such as Alan Shearer and Shay Given, so it’s really a very callous act by whoever was responsible for this thoughtless and mindless theft.”
Pc Andy Wait said: “This shirt was very popular with the children on the ward and we are appealing for the public’s help to identify the heartless thief who stole it.
“We are asking anyone who saw anything suspicious at around that time, or who is offered the shirt for sale, to contact police on 101 ext 69191, or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”