Coast-to-coast cyclists raise £29,000 towards baby scanner for Sunderland Royal Hospital

A group of hardy cyclists has raised almost £29,000 for a state-of-the-art children’s X-ray machine for Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 4:55 am

The 21 riders completed the gruelling 130-mile C2C (coast-to-coast), Whitehaven to Sunderland, for the Red Sky Foundation, which aims to buy the £70,000 portable X-ray machine for the neonatal intensive care ward. The machine can diagnose and treat babies’ heart, brain and lung conditions.

The ride was completed in three days and the peloton included former Sunderland Echo editor, Rob Lawson, and two of the group, Solly Reader and Lee Adams, each raised more than £2,000 for the charity.

The event was led by two experienced cyclists, Martin Brooks and Gary Fletcher, the support team included members of the Rotary Club SR1, based in Sunderland, and sponsors included Thompson Skip Hire and Mercedes-Benz of Sunderland.

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They made it. Red Sky riders drop into the Mercedes-Benz garage in Sunderland after completing their charity ride. Picture by Michael Oliver.
They made it. Red Sky riders drop into the Mercedes-Benz garage in Sunderland after completing their charity ride. Picture by Michael Oliver.

The Red Sky Foundation was founded in 2016 by Sergio and Emma Petrucci, whose baby daughter Luna received life-saving open-heart surgery.

To thank the team at the Freeman Hospital’s children’s heart unit in Newcastle, the couple set about raising funds to help treat other children needing cardiac care.

Sergio said: “I’d like to thank our riders and our brilliant support team of five for taking the time to train and then complete the C2C. It was a tremendous effort and the weather wasn’t great, so it was a particularly tough ride.

“Their efforts have raised a massive amount of money towards our £70,000 target. The X-ray machine is a real game-changer. Currently the babies are sent down to the adult X-ray department and there is a risk of them picking up an infection.

The cyclists at the start of their journey in Whitehaven. Picture by Michael Oliver.

“When we’ve raised the money and bought the machine, the babies can be scanned while in their own cot without disturbing them.

“The wheels are in motion for a similar ride next year.”

Rob Lawson said: “Despite some tricky weather, the ride went really well. The planning was meticulous and the back-up team did a great job to keep us safe.

“Seeing as it was the first time Sergio has arranged such a cycle challenge, he did amazingly well. Although it was tough, the ride was great fun.”

For more information visit Text REDSKYC2C to 70085 to donate £5, or go to

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