Gills Chairman Paul Scally introduces the club's new charity partner Take Heart Mercy MissionGillingham Football Club has teamed with a newly structured charity ‘Take Heart Mercy Mission’, which has been developed as a result of the great work carried out over the past 10 years by a group of volunteer medics from the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, and previously with Guys Hospital, lead by the prominent children’s heart surgeon, Conal Austin, and leading cardiologist John Simpson.
Assisted by a team of 15 doctors, anesthetists, perfusionists, Intensive care nurses and theatre staff, they have been going to Sri Lanka annually under a previous charity, which has now closed due to the sad death in January 2011 of its founder Jai Lameer, and performing life-saving heart surgery on young children with serious heart defects, children who would be unlikely to survive without the surgery they receive.
It is fair to say that all these children come from backgrounds of strong, loving and caring families, but families who are way less fortunate in their standard of life than that enjoyed by families in this Country and more developed countries in general. You can view details of of our latest mission on our website www.takeheartmercymission.com
I have been privately on a number of these missions over the years, been humbled by the experiences I have witnessed and seen a whole different level of life to the one we enjoy here in the UK. Jai Lameer was a great man and when he died I spoke with Conal and John and asked them whether they wished to carry on. Not only were they very positive in so doing, but they asked me to become more involved and take the level of support we give to the Sri Lankan children, and the Karapitaya Hospital in Galle to another level, hence the partnership with GFC was formed.
I do declare another interest for my involvement in helping these good people, in that it was these very same medics that battled to save my son Elliott with his heart problem in 2004, a battle that unfortunately they lost, but a battle that left a lasting impression on me as to the dedicated and compassionate work they do, day in and day out, often without any recognition, so for me it is an honour to now help them to help others, and I’m sure anyone who has experienced a situation similar to my own will understand my motives.
I would therefore urge all supporters to take time over the following weeks, months and years to look at the charity and the work these amazing people do for free, the staff that give their holiday time up for free, that go to Sri Lanka to help others, and give hope to many where hope seemed so far away. Please think about supporting your Club charity in whichever way you feel most comfortable.
For our part we will be going out into Kent, into our schools, businesses, institutions and homes, to educate our children, on healthy hearts, to deliver educational packages on how to look after your heart, ie drug awareness, smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity, good exercise, healthy eating, etc, and to give presentations on the work we do in Sri Lanka, teaming schools up with families we work with, and establishing constructive and sustainable support programmes so that our children can benefit from understanding about alternative ways of life, cultures, religions and standards.
Paul D. P. Scally