A Sunderland couple have been honoured by the Primer Minister with a special award in recognition of their charity work.
Sergio and Emma Petrucci were inspired to set up the charity Red Sky Foundation after their daughter’s life was saved by doctors in 2015.
And now their efforts have been recognised by Boris Johnson after they were the 1626th and 1627th Point of Light award winners.
The award is granted by the Prime Minister to ‘outstanding individuals – people who are making a change in their community across the UK and the Commonwealth.’
The charity was set up to thank those who cared for their daughter Luna who underwent open-heart surgery at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital just days before her second birthday.
Cardiologists discovered two complex heart conditions and described her tiny heart as a ‘ticking time bomb’ but Luna, now eight, is a happy and healthy child.
Just a year later with the charity, the couple began fundraising for the Children’s Heart Unit, holding their first Red Sky Ball.
The Red Sky Foundation raises funds and provides support to cardiac-related causes across the North East, helping babies, children and adults living with heart conditions.
Subsequent Red Sky Balls and other fundraising events have raised close to £400,000, helping to fund two state-of-the-art echo machines for Sunderland Royal Hospital and James Cook Hospital.
They also raised funds for a specialist organ transplant machine which keeps a donor heart healthy for longer giving surgeons more time to perform a transplant.
Countless defibrillators have been funded across the North East with the charity helping to secure a specialist Fontan nursing post in the region, the first of its kind in the UK.
Sergio said: “It’s been extremely challenging over the last 12 months during the pandemic but we’ve still been able to raise enough money to make a huge difference to so many people.
“Aside from the increasing number of public access defibrillators popping up across the region, we’ve also been able to provide 23 defibrillators into covid wards in South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust hospitals, to give people battling the disease the best chance of survival should they suffer a sudden cardiac arrest.
“For the year ahead we are planning more events and we aim to work more closely with the NHS, North East Ambulance Service first response team and local communities to deliver CPR, defibrillator familiarisation sessions and healthy heart awareness programmes so people understand the chain of survival in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest and help demonstrate the importance of knowing resuscitation in an emergency.
“And with more individuals and companies choosing to support the Red Sky Foundation with their own fundraising activities, we are excited about the positive impact we can have on saving more lives.”
He added: “We are thrilled, honoured and humbled to receive a Point of Light Award from the Prime Minister.
“The news took us both by surprise and with so many people supporting our Red Sky journey, we simply couldn’t help save so many lives without their encouragement and for that alone we just want to say thank you for helping us have such a positive impact across the region.”
For more information, visit www.redskyfoundation.com.