Newcastle fans decorate Sunderland Royal Hospital children’s room in thanks for MH17 support

NEWCASTLE fans have crossed the derby divide to say thanks to Sunderland supporters after an air tragedy which saw two fans killed.

Black Cats followers raised tens of thousands of pounds in memory of John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who were killed when flight MH17 was shot down by terrorists in July as it made its way to Malaysia.

Artist and Newcastle United fan Paul Taylor start his mural at Sunderland Royal Hospital as a thank-you to Sunderland supporters for their help after the two NUFC fans died in the MH17 air crash earlier this year

Artist and Newcastle United fan Paul Taylor start his mural at Sunderland Royal Hospital as a thank-you to Sunderland supporters for their help after the two NUFC fans died in the MH17 air crash earlier this year

With the latest Tyne-Wear derby encounter just a fortnight away, Magpies supporters have decided to decorate a Sunderland Royal Hospital paediatric play room as a way of saying thanks.

The idea came from Newcastle fan Jim Kane, 71, of Whitburn, who has enlisted Teesside artist and fellow supporter Paul Taylor, 53, to paint a wall.

“This is mainly for the children but it’s also as a way of saying a big thank you to the Sunderland fans,” said Jim.

“I’m not one of those people who fights with opposing fans, but I love the banter. The Sunderland supporters were absolutely brilliant after what happened to John and Liam and we really respect that. After all, we’re both North East teams.”

Paul, who is from Billingham, says he expects to finish the artwork within four or five days but is on the lookout for supplies from Wearside firms.

“I’ve drawn the outlines now but it shouldn’t take too long to complete,” said Paul.

“I need paint tins for the primary colours to finish it off so once I’ve got those I can get through things quickly.”

The hospital is also accepting toy donations towards the paediatric playroom, although they must be washable to comply with hygiene regulations.

Those who can provide supplies of paint should contact the Echo newsdesk on 501 7326.