What links Kent’s leading football club, Evelina London and Sri Lanka?
The club’s official charity partner - the Take Heart Mercy Mission.
The Take Heart Mercy Mission was developed and launched by its three trustees, Chairman Paul Scally, Conal Austin and Dr John Simpson in 2012 and encompasses the work of Mercy Mission which was started in 2001, and acquired charity status in 2005.
It is solely funded by donations and sponsorships, emerging as the leading British based Sri Lankan Charity and has become a treasured part of Gillingham FC, continuing to gain praise and recognition for its impact making a big change to little hearts.
Each year the Take Heart Mercy Mission visits Sri Lanka to perform intricate and complicated operations on children who would otherwise potentially die from a range of swrious heart conditions. The football club’s charity funds visits for a dedicated group of surgeons, doctors and nurses from Evelina London .
After a hugely successful mission earlier this year, in which the club also brought a team of coaches from the Gills’ Community Trust to provide football sessions within the local community, Gillingham FC are continuing to give back this afternoon.
Visiting the Evelina Children’s Hospital, the club will be reunited with a number of the doctors, anesthetists, perfusionists, intensive care nurses and theatre staff who form the team that visit Sri Lanka.
Chairman Paul Scally, Manager Justin Edinburgh and the entire first team will travel in the club coach from Kent into London on Monday afternoon, armed with lots of Christmas presents and festive cheer to visit over 100 patients and their families.
Chairman Paul Scally revealed his excitement ahead of the trip.
“During this year’s Take Heart Mercy Mission we operated on 20 gravely sick children which is wonderful. Sadly, one child passed away, but 19 now have a real chance to lead a full and active life. But the hard work of the charity never stops. We’re extremely lucky to work with the talented and dedicated people at Evelina London and to visit them at Christmas time is very special.”
The team at Evelina London are the same group who battled to save the Chairman's son Elliott with his heart problems 11 years ago.
He added: “It was a battle that unfortunately they lost. But a battle that left a lasting impression on me as to the compassionate work they do, day in and day out, often without any recognition.”
“So for me it is an honour to help them and help others. I’m really looking forward to taking the Manager and players up to visit the team, patients and all their families.”