Prime Minister Boris Johnson has honoured a Sunderland couple with a special award in recognition of their charity work.

Through their Red Sky Foundation, Sergio and Emma Petrucci raise funds and provide support to cardiac-related causes across the North East, helping babies, children and adults living with heart conditions.

And now their efforts have been recognised with a Point of Light award, granted by the Prime Minister to ‘outstanding individuals – people who are making a change in their community across the UK and the Commonwealth. 

Sergio and Emma, the 1626th and 1627th Point of Light award winners, were inspired to set up the Red Sky Foundation after their daughter’s life was saved by doctors in 2015.   

Luna, now eight, underwent open heart surgery at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, just days before her second birthday, after cardiologists described her tiny heart as a ‘ticking time bomb’ having identified two complex heart conditions.

To thank all those who cared for her, the couple began fundraising for the Children’s Heart Unit, holding their first first Red Sky Ball a year later.

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 along with a specialist organ transplant machine which keeps a donor heart healthy for longer giving surgeons more time to perform a transplant.

Their Foundation has also funded countless defibrillators across the North East and helped to secure a specialist Fontan nursing post in the region, the first of its kind in the UK.

“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,” said Sergio.

“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.

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24 March 2021

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