"I feel hugely honoured to have been appointed as a Patron of the Children's Heart Unit Fund (CHUF).
"I am extremely proud of the North East and to have a unit of this calibre serving both the region and the UK is a credit to our medical profession and talented medical professionals within."
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A former Premier League footballer has been cleared of raping a woman he met in a nightclub.
72-year-old Arthur Bierton from Thirsk was convicted at Teesside Crown Court of abusing two young girls in the 1980s and 90s.