Staff at Virgin Money have spread some Christmas cheer by handing over a cheque for over £5,000 to the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF), the North East-based charity that supports the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. It brings Virgin Money’s fundraising totals for the Newcastle-based charity to over £125,000 raised over the last eleven years it has supported CHUF.

CHUF CEO, Chris Gray, said: “The level of long standing support we have had from everyone at Virgin Money is staggering. We’re immensely grateful to them and means we can continue to provide vital equipment and additional holistic care to help children born with, or who develop, serious heart conditions.”

Most of the funds raised by CHUF are spent on the much-needed improvement of facilities and services at the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital. It is one of only two specialist units in the UK that can perform highly complex and lifesaving heart transplant operations on babies and small children and, as such, treats patients from across the UK.

Brand director at Virgin Money, Andrew Nicholson, said: “It’s an honour to be able to support such a wonderful and well deserving charity. CHUF’s work is so vital in helping poorly children and their families to cope with extremely traumatic and stressful periods in their lives.

“Since working closely with the team from CHUF we understand how vital it is that ongoing support is offered long after the physical scars have healed. We feel privileged to be in a position to support them.”

Each year, Virgin Money staff have undertaken auctions of goods and services donated by staff, suppliers and business associates. This year’s auction prizes included football tickets, weekend breaks and a host of other money can’t buy items.

Recently, the former North East Charity of the Year has helped to finance the revolutionary new TransMedics organ transportation system, that allows hearts to enjoy much longer and healthier transportation times. This means donor hearts can be received from a much wider geographical spread.

In addition CHUF has also financed a team of specialist play nurses on the ward that aid the holistic recovery of the child and also helped fund the construction of Scott House, a dedicated accommodation unit that sits adjacent to the Freeman Hospital and allows families of patients on the Children’s Heart Unit to stay close to their children during treatment.