Red Sky Foundation Has Now Received Charitable Status After Raising Money For The Community
North East-based Red Sky Foundation has now received charitable status following years of raising tremendous sums of money for defibrillators, hospital equipment, and educational services concerning cardiac arrest
Red Sky Foundation is unusual in that it was founded not out of tremendous sacrifice or loss, but instead out of deep gratitude for the North East’s brilliant health service. Sergio Petrucci started Red Sky Foundation to give the people of Sunderland something positive to look forward to, hosting annual balls that are more reminiscent of festivals than they are charity fund raisers, raising large sums of money to fund cardiovascular equipment in hospitals, and equipping public spaces with defibrillators after his young daughter Luna was saved by a harrowing heart operation.
‘I’m from Sunderland, and this all happened because my daughter was born with two holes in her heart. Holes which were repaired after an eight-hour operation at Freeman Hospital. The morning of her operation there was a red sunrise, which is where the name Red Sky Foundation came from,’ explains Sergio. ‘A year after the operation we decided to throw a big dinner party for the hospital at The Stadium of Light and called it The Red Sky Ball. We had 400 guests after selling out in two days, raising £64,000 in one evening,’ he continues. ‘We did it again and again, raising well over £600,000 net altogether. The sum being £600,000 net, not gross, is important too,’ Sergio clarifies. ‘We are passionate about showing people that all the money goes to the cause, the machines we’re buying, and the impact this money is having on people’s lives.’
Red Sky Foundation has run more community-based activities in a bid to reach full charity status, which they were granted earlier this year. Sergio was determined to interact with the community directly and transparently, keen to show supporters that they have a say in how their money is spent.
‘We’re totally approachable. The plan was always to have an army of people helping us,’ Sergio says. ‘A man who recently lost his dad took about 40 people on a march from Jarrow to St James’ Park, raising over £9,000. They asked me what we’d do with that money, and my response was “whatever you want to do with it”. We suggested that, because his dad used to drink in Jarrow and loved to go to St James’ Park, we use the money to map out a path to St James’ from Jarrow and place defibrillators at stops along the way,’ Sergio explains. ‘Keeping his dad’s legacy alive, and giving him a bit of focus. Our approach is this – “do what you can, raise what you can, and we’ll help fund your goals as best as we can”.’
Red Sky Foundation have managed to achieve some extraordinary feats since beginning as an annual ball, including securing an organ care system for the transportation of hearts across long distances.
‘We funded a machine that helped ease the transportation of hearts for transplants, as we were told that the machine was a real priority,’ says Sergio. ‘They call it a “heart in a box”. Previously hearts would be transported on the back of a motorbike in a cold box, only lasting four hours before the heart starts to degenerate. This machine keeps the heart alive for 12 hours, giving both the patient and the surgeon the time that they need to prepare for the operation,’ he explains. ‘I got to meet one of the first people to receive a heart through this equipment, Kenneth Morris from Carlisle. We’ve been friends ever since.’
Their most recent defibrillator campaign has become a brilliant way for Sergio and Red Sky Foundation to supply life saving equipment while educating people on the risks associated with poor cardiovascular health – saving lives in communities that often go overlooked.
‘My objective soon became to put as many defibrillators in as many public access places as possible, something more community focused to dovetail our support for the NHS and cardiac units,’ Sergio continues. ‘In Northern Europe defibrillators are all over the place, but before we got started in the North East, there were only eight public access defibrillators in South Tyneside, 40-odd in Sunderland, 200-odd in Newcastle, and 200-odd in Durham – so we made sure to focus massively on South Tyneside and Sunderland,’ he says. ‘We distribute them into different areas, but often we will place them based on request or in areas of deprivation, which can often lead to poor health.
‘I created the Red Sky Foundation for everybody, not just for the few. It’s not mine and my wife’s charity – it’s everybody’s.’