See Sunderland’s Northern Spire and Penshaw Monument turn red to celebrate family’s £300k fund-raising efforts

Monuments across Wearside were turned red as a charity organisation crossed which has helped provide the NHS with life-saving health equipment smashed through its £300,000 mark.

Sunderland couple Sergio and Emma Petrucci say they are forever indebted to Children’s Heart Unit (CHUF), at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital after medics there saved the life of daughter Luna, five.

Luna was only days short of her second birthday in 2015 when she had to undergo life-saving treatment on two holes in her heart.

Thanks to the work of doctors at the Freeman, Luna is living a life as normal as any other child.

Through their Red Sky Ball and White Party fund-raisers, the family and others have helped to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds for the unit, which has included buying life-saving heart machines.

More than 300 children each year are cared for at the unit, of whom 20 will receive heart transplants and more than 7,000 will return for outpatient visits.

The latest Red Sky Ball at the Foundation of Light’s Beacon of Light facility saw 800 guests enjoy an evening of entertainment with the opportunity to take part in raffles and auctions.

Strictly Come Dancing favourite and former Steps star Faye Tozer presented the evening on stage in her role as the charity’s ambassador.

Council chiefs also allowed for landmarks such as the Northern Spire bridge, Penshaw Monument and the Sunderland Empire theatre to be lit up red for the night.

Speaking to the Echo, Sergio, 42, said: “We’re still counting money in now but it looks to be about £56,000 which means we have raised £305,000 since we started.

“It’s been a fantastic night and we had people from places like Paris and Aberdeen coming along to show their support.

“This all started from me trying to give a nurse who had looked after my daughter £100 to go and have a meal with her boyfriend and things have just snowballed from there.

“The money will go towards helping transplant patients of all ages, not just babies and children.”

Among the prizes on offer were a VIP experience at Manchester City FC as well as a holiday to Dubai which was donated by JW Marriott.

Companies including Emirates Airlines, Elopa and Mercedes were also involved.

Food on the evening was provided by Ramside while Storm AV and Spectrum assisted with the display and pyrotechnics on the night.

“We always wanted to have something special like this held in Sunderland and the good is that money generated will stay in the region, benefitting people here,” added Sergio, also dad to Enzo, nine.

“And I have to say thanks Sunderland City Council for turning the famous landmarks red. They looked brilliant.”

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