SICK children at Sunderland Royal Hospital now have a brighter place to play thanks to grateful football fans.
We reported last week how Newcastle supporters had decided to decorate the Royal’s paediatric play room as a thank you to Sunderland fans for their support over the summer when two Magpies fans died in an air tragedy.
Liam Sweeney and John Alder were on flight MH17 bound for Malaysia when it was shot down by terrorists in July.
The play space at the Royal was recently vandalised and NUFC fan Jim Kane, of Whitburn, said it provided the ideal opportunity for him and other Magpies supporters to show their thanks to Wearsiders after Black Cats followers raised tens of thousands of pounds in memory of the pair.
Jim’s appeal for help was heeded by artist and fellow Newcastle fan Paul Taylor, who has created a mural in the playroom based on the minions from smash film Despicable Me.
Paul is also putting both SAFC and NUFC club crests on the mural as a sign of solidarity.
Jim, 71, said: “I’m over the moon with what Paul’s done.
“The work by him is amazing and it’ll be great to see the kids’ faces when they come in here.”
Jim added that he hopes both sets of supporters at next week’s derby game in Newcastle respect each other while passionately cheering on their own teams.
“The animosity between the two clubs is daft at times and it shouldn’t be.
“I’ve got Sunderland supporters in my family and even though I’ve tried to educate them, I’ve had no luck!
“But it shouldn’t go over the top at all.”
Fans have donated money towards the effort so that paint and other supplies could be bought.
Paul, 53, of Billingham in Teesside, who has spent most of the past week drawing out and painting the mural, said: “We’ve ended up having a little bit of money left over so that’s gone on paint brushes and pencils which the kids can use when the room is back open.”
Pauline Palmer, matron for the paediatric wards at the Royal, said she and the rest of the hospital were “delighted” with the fans’ efforts.
“The work that they have put in to do this is just fantastic,” she said.
“For them to contact us and paint the room is amazing.
“It’s a very attractive and cheerful and will help to calm the children down when they come here.
“I’m sure they’ll love it.”