MORE than 100 volunteers are needed to help run a major new shopping experience in York Hospital.

As part of the extensive refurbishment of its entrance area, York Hospital is building a retail development including a large cafeteria, a retail store with a lottery ticket terminal and a flower and gift shop.

Most of the retail outlets will be run by members of the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS), who already run a store in the hospital, which they took over from WH Smith.

Now the organisation is looking for 126 men and women to work in the new shops, which are due to open in July, on a voluntary basis.

Ann Stokes, regional volunteering manager for the WRVS, said it would be one of Britain's biggest retail developments based in a hospital.

She said: "Going to hospital can be quite a daunting experience, even for a visitor. We hope these shops will be a friendly oasis in what can be quite a frightening environment.

"There will be a skeleton of salaried staff, which we hope to complement by volunteers, who will work around four hours a week each."

The shops and cafe will stay open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week and the profits from the venture will be ploughed back into the hospital to buy equipment.

A small part of the profits will also go towards funding community projects such as books on wheels, meals on wheels and luncheon clubs for the elderly.

Mrs Stokes said: "It's a great way to support both the hospital and local initiatives."

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should phone WRVS shop manager Val Grist on 01904 670970 or 0845 6014670.

Updated: 09:29 Wednesday, May 21, 2003