Heart charity couple offer King a defibrillator after being awarded MBEs

Heart charity couple offer King a defibrillator after being awarded MBEs
Emma Petrucci and Sergio Petrucci spoke to Charles about their charity’s work (Victoria Jones/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Victoria Jones

A couple who co-founded a charity for heart conditions have said they offered the King a defibrillator after he awarded them MBEs.

Sergio Petrucci, 47, and his wife Emma ,41, from Sunderland – who set up the Red Sky Foundation, were both honoured by Charles at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, for services to health and the community in north-east England.

The charity raises funds for the Children’s Heart Unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and other NHS hospitals in north-east England, as well as providing defibrillators for schools and public spaces around the country.

Reacting to receiving the honour, Mr Petrucci told the PA news agency: “[I am] really, really proud and emotional as well, because there’s a lot of hard work that’s gone into setting the Red Sky Foundation up.

“We’ve had people who have cycled, ran races, fundraised and supported us from the beginning – I guess they have a little piece of this medal too.”

Mr Petrucci said the King spoke with them at length and was “so interested” in the work the charity had done to help babies and children, before he started talking about their work with defibrillators.

He said: “[The King] was particularly keen to talk about rural areas and the countryside, and how we would work to put them into telephone boxes which is great, so that’s one thing we can start working on.

“I offered him a complimentary defibrillator for the palace, so we’re going to write to the master of the house afterwards.

“He’s given us a prize, we’ll give him a present.”

Investitures at Buckingham PalaceThe couple described their work with the Red Sky Foundation as ‘non-stop’, but ‘the most rewarding job’ (Aaron Chown/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Aaron Chown

The husband and wife were inspired into action after their daughter Luna underwent life-saving heart surgery at Freeman Hospital in 2015.

After the couple hosted their first fundraising event in 2016, Red Sky became a registered charity in March 2020.

It now offers a broad range of services, from working with grieving families who have lost loved ones to heart conditions to teaching children as young as four years old how to do CPR.

Mr Petrucci continued: “That’s all we ever wanted to do – to give back and say thank you to the teams that fixed our little girl’s heart, but to know that we’ve come this far, we just won’t stop.”

He added Red Sky had just donated 100 defibrillators worth more than £100,000 to grassroots sports teams across the UK, and the charity had raised over £1 million to date.

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