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How a North East charity is helping kids see Santa this Christmas

We’re video-calling everyone else this year, so why not the man in red?

You may well think that finalising his travel itinerary for Christmas Eve, on top of helping his elves put the finishing touches to all the toys for the world’s boys and girls, would leave St Nick little time for anything else. But the man in red has once again proved why he still sleighs – with a little help from North East charity The Red Sky Foundation.

Embracing technology to face a different kind of Christmas, Santa Claus spent his summer perfecting the art of video conferencing so that he can still ask children around the North East what they would like to find in their stockings this year.

A first for Mr Claus, his move to digital Christmas ambassador has been facilitated by Newcastle-based charity The Red Sky Foundation, who came up with the idea to make sure youngsters in the Freeman Hospital’s heart unit could still nab a chat with the big man, despite the lockdown restrictions. But the Red Sky Santa concept proved so popular that the charity has now rolled out the opportunity to other children across the North East – with a proportion of all money raised going straight back into the charity.

Throughout December, families can choose to book either a live, 10-minute video call with Father Christmas for £25, or a 5-minute pre-recorded message for £15, which can be fully personalised at the point of booking for up to two children. So now your little ones don’t have to miss out on one of the most magical moments of the festive season just because of the pandemic – Santa, along with his elves, reindeer and beautifully-designed grotto, can come to them.

Mum-and-dad team Emma and Sergio Petrucci set up The Red Sky Foundation after the life-saving treatment their daughter Luna received in 2015 in the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital. After experiencing the pioneering work carried out by the wonderful NHS team first-hand, the couple wanted to express their thanks by raising money to help fund machines, equipment, specialist nursing care and holistic treatment and teamed up with CHUF (the hospital’s Children’s Heart Unit Fund).

But what began as a one-off fundraising event for the hospital that saved their daughter’s life turned into a charitable institution in its own right. Now The Red Sky Foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds that have helped to buy vital equipment for hospitals across the North East, including the Freeman Hospital’s unique organ care transplant system. The charity also helped to fund a specialist Fontan Nurse post in the region – the first of its kind in the UK – and has facilitated the purchase of a large number of public-use defibrillators now situated in towns and city centres across the North East.

‘Children are absolutely at the heart of everything we do,’ says Sergio. ‘That’s why we’re thrilled to be collaborating with Santa Claus this Christmas. Like a lot of grown-ups this year, he’s had to get to grips with face-to-face messaging, but he’s got the hang of it now and he can’t wait to chat to North East youngsters.’

For more information or to book, visit www.redskysanta.com

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