Our recent James Bond themed Thunderball event at Priestfield raised over £75,000 for the club's official charity partnerGillingham Football Club made a big difference to little hearts earlier this month when we staged the Take Heart Mercy Mission Thunderball at Priestfield Stadium.
After the huge success of the club’s charity gala last season, the Take Heart team organised a glamorous James Bond themed evening complete with cocktails, casino games and a charity auction full of items and experiences money can’t buy.
Gillingham FC’s official charity, Take Heart Mercy Mission, was developed and launched by Chairman Paul Scally, Conal Austin and John Simpson in 2012 aiming to save lives and pass on expertise to medical teams in Sri Lanka treating young heart patients.
Since 2012, through donations and sponsorship, the charity has been able to save the lives of babies and children by performing intricate and complicated operations.
This is achieved by funding visits for a dedicated group of surgeons, doctors and nurses from the Evelina London Children’s Hospital in London who were also in attendance at the charities’ signature night.
Priestfield Stadium provided the perfect back drop for an outstanding night of fundraising with hundreds of guests gathering together to beat last year’s total, raising around an incredible £75,000.
In addition to the medical operation, the money raised will also make a huge difference to the Gills football development work in Sri Lanka.
During a recent trip, Gillingham FC’s community coaches delivered coaching sessions and facilitated football games for large local communities delivering football to over 1,200 children who had a week to remember, with hundreds of youngsters now proudly wearing their Gills shirts.
Chairman Paul Scally expressed his delight at how the evening went: “None of this work could be achieved without the help, support, friendship and sponsorship of our Take Heart Mercy Mission team, staff and supporters of the football club.
"To raise such a substantial amount in one evening demonstrates what a fantastic infrastructure we have built between the football club and the charity and what a powerful cause we’re supporting.
“I’d like to thank all the staff who give up and dedicate their time for free. Over the past three years I’ve seen the real difference these operations make to the lives of dozens of families - that without our help - would have different outcomes.
"The Take Heart Mercy Mission has now completed 184 heart surgical procedures on babies and children in Sri Lanka which is a fantastic effort, made possible with the help of a dedicated bunch of people.”
“The people in Sri Lanka look forward to us coming each year and now I’ve witnessed it first-hand, I realise quite how outstanding the work is that the charity is doing.
"Seeing the faces of the families who’ve had members undergo successful surgery tells its own story and after such a successful Thunderball, we look forward to going to Sri Lanka again next year, developing the charity and its work and achieving new goals.
"I’m really proud of all the staff who have made this possible - both the medical team and the football coaches – and I extend my personal thanks to them all."
You can see a photo gallery at the top of this page taken on the night. Pictures courtesy of Mark Howells.
The club’s fundraising efforts will continue throughout the season and a huge end-of-season spectacular has been planned for Monday 4th May 2015.
An access all areas event is arranged for fans of Gillingham Football Club who can join their heroes for a unique family fun day.
Including a five-a-side tournament with Gills legends, music, bouncy castles, face painting, entertainment, food and drink using the pitch at Priestfield Stadium, the day will be topped off with a live music event.
You can learn more about the Take Heart Mercy Mission by watching the video below.