West Ham United Academy and West Ham United Community Sports Trust joined forces to support the Anthony Nolan charity at the Boleyn Ground this week.

The charity, which works tirelessly to save lives of those suffering from blood cancer through pioneering campaigning, was at the club to reach out for the first time to younger donors from aged 16.

Previously all registered donors - who may be possible matches in providing blood stem cells and bone marrow to those needing life-saving treatment - had to be over 18. But now Anthony Nolan has launched a register for ages 16-30 - the first register in the world to do so.

At the Boleyn Ground, youngsters from several Newham schools and colleges came to see to what the charity was all about and several joined up to be become donors by providing a sample of saliva, which will be tested to see if it can be match.

Attending the event from West Ham's U-18 team were players Ben Marlow and Dymon Labonne, together with apprentices from the West Ham United Community Sports Trust. Also lending his support on the day was local businessman and former West Ham Board Director, Jack Petchey, who, together with the Jack Petchey Foundation, has given over £600,000 in the last year to help Anthony Nolan fund vital research and treatment.

Mr Petchey CBE, said: "This is a tremendous charity that does a lot of work, simply to try and save the lives of many people. At our foundation, we work with thousands of motivated young people who want to help others. What greater way is there to help one another than to save a life?

"I am also delighted that West Ham United is helping the charity in this way, with as many of us as possible working together, we can help save many more lives."

The event saw several youngsters also find out more about the charity. It was set up in the memory of Anthony Nolan - a young boy who was born with a rare condition that only a bone marrow transplant could be the cure for. Although Anthony sadly died in 1979, his mother Shirley campaigned tirelessly to set up a donor register in a bid to try and help more people like her son.

West Ham have already supported previous campaigns through club captain Kevin Nolan - no relation - to help raise awareness of the need for donors.

Academy players Marlow and Labonne said it was good that football could play a part in trying to raise awareness of the need of young donors.

"We found out a lot about what the Anthony Nolan charity is doing and if we here at West Ham United can help raise awareness for more people, especially teenagers, to come forward and be a possible donor, then it is only a good thing," said Marlow.

And team-mate Labonne added: "They told us how younger people make for better donors, so hopefully more will step forward and the best thing is, they know they may be saving someone's life."

The recruitment drive was a success and Anthony Nolan hope to do more with West Ham in the future.

Ann O'Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, said: "We were delighted that West Ham United hosted this event for us. Football is one of the, if not the, most popular sports and many young people either play or watch it. So if we can get through to more young people, to look at joining the register through working with West Ham, it would be great.

"The young people who joined us from the Academy team and Community Trust at the club really added to the event and we hope that many more will seek us out to find out about hopefully become a donor. The key message is to save lives and everything, like this event, helps us to get closer to doing that as much as we can."

If you are aged between 16 and 30 and would like to become a donor, you can go to www.anthonynolan.org/register For more details on Anthony Nolan and the work it does, go to www.anthonynolan.org

Moore Than a Football Club