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Why We're Supporting Red Sky Foundation at Living North LIVE

Why We're Supporting Red Sky Foundation at Living North LIVE
April 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

The chosen charity for this year's Living North LIVE spring fair (19th-21st April at Newcastle Racecourse) is Red Sky Foundation

We're delighted to be supporting this Sunderland-based charity which raises vital funds for babies, children and adults who are born with, or develop, heart conditions and who are in need of cardiac care.

Red Sky Foundation was born out of deep gratitude for the region’s health service. Initially, Sergio and Emma Petrucci wanted to give something back to the team at the Children’s Heart Unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, where their little girl, Luna, underwent life-saving heart surgery in 2015. Sergio launched what at the time was believed to be a one-off fundraising dinner, the Red Sky Ball, to buy vital equipment for the hospital. Now, the Red Sky Ball is one of the largest charity events on the North East calendar. Following their huge impact, in March 2020 Sergio and Emma’s Red Sky Foundation were awarded full registered charitable status.

To date, Red Sky Foundation has raised more than £1 million to buy a range of equipment and also provides facilities and aftercare at the Children’s Heart Unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, Sunderland Royal Hospital and The James Cook University Hospital in Teesside. The Freeman Hospital’s cardiothoracic centre is a regional and national centre of excellence for lung and heart care. ‘That’s testament to the great work that goes on here and the lives that are impacted and saved,’ says Sergio. ‘In order for it to maintain its world-class reputation, it needs funding and it needs people like ourselves who are able to provide that support and to get out there and spread the word of what’s required. That way we’re able to demonstrate where the money that we fundraise goes.’

The charity’s mission is to improve the lives of people needing cardiac care. They assist with grants, equipment and awareness, support regional health services within the NHS and other charitable organisations and provide life-saving defibrillators for local schools and public spaces. They also collaborate with organisations to offer a range of training and education, from defibrillator use to CPR.

The charity recently committed to funding over £200,000 to bring a world first heart transplant machine to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital. The Xvivo ‘heart box’ invented in Sweden is expected to be ready for full use by summer 2024 and will revolutionise organ transplants and ultimately save more lives.

There are many ways to support Red Sky Foundation. ‘We just had an email from a big construction organisation who are willing to do a sponsored hill climb, and we’ve also been contacted by another organisation in County Durham who are doing a coast to coast cycle ride which encourages their employees to feel empowered as well, by letting them get involved in other things rather than simple donations here and there. It shows that they’re willing to put themselves through a little bit of pain and recognise the hard work and dedication of the doctors and nurses.

‘There are loads of ways to fundraise whether it’s a cake sale or taking on a particular challenge. We have places in the Durham City Run Festival in July, as well as in the Sunderland 10K, and we had over 300 people running for us in the Great North Run last year dedicated to being a part of a bigger team. That team is the Red Sky family and everyone takes pride in knowing that they’re not alone and they’re doing this for the same cause.’

This March, the Red Sky Ball broke its own record bringing in £200,000. More than 1,000 guests gathered at the Beacon of Light in Sunderland for a night of entertainment and fine dining and money was raised through both a live and silent auction, with more than 30 people also showing their generosity by agreeing to buy defibrillators for their local communities. Initially the final total for the night was £183,000 – until an anonymous donor stepped in and offered to round the total to £200,000. Guests were treated to performances by Hunni (Jen and Liv who recently won The Voice UK), West End star Ben Forster, soprano-singer Emily Haig and local dance school, Ace Performers.

‘The Red Sky Ball is like no other. The money it raises goes direct to the important causes we support. We don’t want to be the biggest, we just want to be the best. As long as we continue to support parents and families, and the patients who are needing heart surgery and care, that’s the best thing. Someone told me “Sergio, it doesn’t matter how much you raise, as long as you raise something that’s making a difference and that’s doing something that someone else might not be prepared to do”. It’s a passion that burns inside me and it always will do because all I’m doing is repaying a debt of gratitude for what they did to fix my little girl.’

You can learn more about the charity and the vital work they do at Living North LIVE (19th–21st April at Newcastle Racecourse) as well as having the opportunity to donate and find out where those donations will go.

For more information about Red Sky Foundation and its initiatives, visit

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