SANTA has paid an early visit to a County Durham girl, who has been unable to enjoy the outdoor fun other children take for granted.

Six-year-old Chanel Murrish, from Seaham, who was the world’s youngest heart surgery patient, wanted a bicycle, so she could join her brothers and friends as they played outside.

But a series of major health conditions, from epilepsy and heart problems to cerebral palsy, meant she was forced to watch from the sidelines.

At birth Chanel was given just a five per cent chance of survival but, despite defying all the odds, her ongoing conditions meant simple pleasures such as a bike ride were beyond reach.

Then North East charity Red Sky Foundation stepped in – and now Chanel is the proud owner of her first set of wheels.

Launched in 2016 by Sergio Petrucci and his wife Emma, the Red Sky Foundation was initially intended to be a one-off fund-raising event to thank the Freeman Hospital unit which saved their daughter’s life.

However, it has gone from strength to strength and has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to help fund vital equipment including a unique organ care transplant system for the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman, and heart echo scanners for Sunderland Royal and James Cook Hospital in Teesside.

“When I discovered there were special bikes that could be customised to Chanel’s exact requirements, I knew we had to try and help,” said Sergio.

And not only did the Foundation source a bike for Chanel but the charity met the full £1220 cost.                                                                                                                         

The sky blue Theraplay Terrier Trike has an 18 tooth gears, frame-folding mechanism, meaning it can be easily loaded into the car and has been customised to suit Chanel’s needs with leg support callipers, a left hand mitt, padded seating area and lap belt. 

The charity met the cost with money raised from a series of virtual events it held during lockdown and Sergio said they were happy to help.

“Normally we fundraise for medical equipment but this touched our hearts. What child doesn’t want a bicycle? Chanel is a little fighter and we are delighted to have made this Christmas particularly special for her.”

“Chanel had asked for a bike for a few years so she could be like her brothers and friends,” said mum, Fay, “but we had no idea how to go about getting a custom made one that would fit her individual needs.

“We are incredibly grateful to all at Red Sky Foundation and those special individuals that helped make it happen for her.

“To see her on it and having fun like other children is amazing but also to see how proud she is of herself and the confidence boost it has given her is priceless.”        

For further information about Red Sky Foundation visit


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For more information please contact Bernice Saltzer at Sorted PR Ltd on 07977 860183 or email

16 December 2020

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