There were smiles all around as West Ham United made a special Christmas visit to Richard House Children's Hospice.

Mark Noble, who is patron of the Beckton-based hospice, was there along with James Collins, Gary O'Neil, Jack Collison, Jordan Spence and Raphael Spiegel to meet youngsters, their families and the hard-working staff and volunteers.

The players gave out goody bags, which included footballs and teddy bears, with all proving to be hugely popular with the children. There were photographs and autographs for everyone, while all the players took time to chat with the youngsters and their families, as well as spending time with staff.

The hospice, which is one of the official charities the club supports, caters for children and young people with life-limiting, life-threatening and complex health issues.

Speaking as he chatted and made time for every person in the room, Noble said: "We are always more than happy to visit Richard House. It is such a special place to come and meet everyone, from the children and their families to all the staff who do such fantastic jobs.

"For us to come here and visit as often as we can, especially at Christmas, is just a small thing we can do, something we all gladly give up our time to do without question.

"To see such happy faces greet you when you walk in, despite these youngsters going through the most unimaginable things, is just humbling. I'm very proud to be a patron here and I know all the lads who visited and everyone at the club will continue to put their full support behind the hospice. I hope many others do, too, because it will enable the hospice to carry on doing the fantastic work it does."

Noble also presented a donation, made personally by all the players, to Richard House community fundraising manager Viv Talbot, which will go towards the 300 families from across London and Essex and beyond who use the hospice.

She said: "West Ham have been supporting us for around ten years now and, for that, we are hugely grateful. Thank you to the players who came to visit us and for putting smiles on the faces of so many children here."

Defender Collins, as were all the players, was also moved by the bravery of all he met at Richard House.

He said: "It is something we want to do and we try to do visits like this as much as we can. To come and meet such incredibly positive children and their families at such a great place was an honour. Even though they are going through such difficult circumstances, there were smiles and everyone was pleased to see us. They should be proud of how they are coping."

For more information on Richard House Children's Hospice, click here.

Moore Than a Football Club