Enjoy our favourite images from last months Mercy Mission to Sri Lanka

September is always a busy month in the footballing calendar, but it’s equally important off the field for Gillingham Football Club as it marks the annual visit to Sri Lanka, our club charity Take Heart Mercy Mission.

Gills Chairman Paul Scally has been a long term supporter of the charity, which annually sends a team of top doctors and support staff, from the world renowned Evalina Children’s Hospital, to Galle in Sri Lanka, to provide essential surgery to young children with life-threatening heart conditions.

The annual missions began a decade ago, spearheaded by award-winning surgeons John Simpson and Conal Austin, and this year is the second Mercy Mission since Paul Scally took on the role of Chairman of Take Heart.

It’s been a tremendous first year, with a record volume of funds raised, which not only helped finance this year’s mission, but also enabled the charity to ship £500,000 of state-of-the-art medical technology, including ultrasound equipment, cardiac assist systems and operating tables to the Karapitaya Hospital in Galle.

The life-saving shipment will make a huge difference to the level of care that the staff at the Karapitaya hospital will be able to provide for their young patients, but also arrived in time to be connected up, ready for the Take Heart team to use on this year’s mission.

The team arrived in Sri Lanka on the evening of Thursday 19 September and immediately set about their work, with patient assessments beginning first thing the following morning at the Karapitaya. Indeed the team set such an impressive pace that the first two children underwent surgery that very day.

Throughout the entire mission the Evelina surgeons operated on at least three patients every day and although one of our patients sadly lost their personal battle, all the remaining children were recovering well in intensive care when the Mission ended at the end of September.

Shortly after the team returned to the UK we were touched to receive a note from Doctor Mangala Goonetilleke, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist at the Karapitaya Hospital who wrote, “This is a small note of gratitude to the whole team for your great and dedicated work here in Karapitiya.

“This mission not only helped to save the lives of children with complex heart diseases but was also a good educational exercise to our team. We all learned many things from this team which will definitely help us to improve the patient care.

“The equipment and other materials donated by you are of immense help to our unit to improve the patient care. Therefore this is a big Thank You note to you and your team for your great work. Keep it up.”

Even better news followed last month when we received confirmation from our colleagues at the Karapitaya Hospital that all the patients that were recovering in intensive care, when we left Galle, have made such good progress that they have been discharged and are able to return home and continue their rehabilitation with their families.

Needless to say that everyone at Gillingham FC and all the staff and supporters of Take Heart Mercy Mission are immensely proud of the outstanding success of this year’s mission. That success has only been made possible through your kindness and generosity and we would like to thank everyone who has helped us make a massive difference to so many young lives.

For more information on the charity, our work, and the people that make it all possible visit