How Sunderland Empire audiences have helped save little lives

Generous theatre-goers have helped to save little lives after a year of charity donations at Sunderland Empire.

Monday, 22nd January 2018, 5:00 am
CHUF representatives with Luna, Emma and Sergio Petrucci

The theatre’s chosen charity for 2017 was Red Sky Ball for CHUF and audiences dug deep to raise £10,600 for the cause.

Funds were raised through bucket collections across a number of productions in 2017 including, Dirty Dancing, Blood Brothers, Hairspray, Mamma Mia! and this year’s pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.

Red Sky Ball was set up by Sergio Petrucci and his wife Emma from Ashbrooke after the care their daughter Luna, now four, received at the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital, which is one of only two specialist units in the UK that can carry out complex heart surgery on babies and children.

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Red Sky Ball for CHUF aims to make life that little bit more comfortable for families, whether it be providing a parent’s emergency wash bag, gadgets and games or the essential equipment and machinery needed to save little lives.

Some of the collections raised have already been utilised to fund a cardiogram machine for the neonatal ward in Sunderland Royal.

Sergio Petrucci, Red Sky Ball, said: “It has been an amazing journey working with Sunderland Empire. 2017 was an especially poignant year as it was the 2nd anniversary since our daughter Luna had her life saving operation at the Children’s Heart Unit.

“It has been great to see audiences and the venue as a whole supporting our cause in such a proactive manner. As a heart family, we know only too well the enormous difference this type of support can make to the lives of more families in giving their children a chance at life.”

Ben Phillips, theatre director at Sunderland Empire, said: “It has been a delight to work with Red Sky Ball over the year and to already see the funds raised benefiting families across the North East, through the purchase of the cardiogram machine. It has been inspiring and wonderful to see staff get behind our Charity of the Year and the continuing generosity of our customers to support such a worthy local charity.”

Sergio added: “We owe a huge debt to the heart specialists for saving Luna’s life and we hope to raise further funds to enable us buy more essential equipment on a wish list to help care for Wearside babies and children.”

•Red Sky Ball continue to look for corporate partners as they look to break £200,000 this year, any companies looking to support the charitable cause can get in touch via [email protected] for more information.