West Ham United Community Sports Trust celebrated its longstanding and much-valued partnership with official sponsors Higgins Group PLC this week, one that now extends some ten years.

Higgins representatives, together with Community patron Joe Cole, enjoyed an extensive tour of the Trust's impressive Beckton home, led by Joe Lyons, Head of the Community Sports Trust.

Now in its 23rd year of delivery, the Trust has worked tirelessly to establish solid local partnerships and programmes, which are designed to promote social and economic wellbeing.

Higgins, a local-based contractor/developer dealing chiefly in estate regeneration and private sale, mixed tenure housing, have supported the Trust in making Beckton a hub of community activity, one that now proudly boasts a flagship Premier League Kicks programme.

Their generous and enduring support is vital in facilitating the many precious projects that the Trust deliver in east London and Essex, such that Mr Lyons emphasised the value of the partnership.

"The Trust has a very positive role to play across our community and this cannot be achieved by working in silos," he explained.

"The next three years are going to be an extremely exciting time for us and one that can make our partnership even stronger and more positive for everyone involved."

Sentiments echoed by Higgins Director Paul Cooke, who was suitably impressed with all that he saw at Beckton, safe in the knowledge that their investment is going to wonderfully good use.

He told West Ham TV: "We've had a relationship with West Ham for the last ten years, funding work down here at Beckton, so it's good to see it's still very active.

Joe Cole and Higgins
The Trust showcased a multitude of programmes at their Beckton hub

"There are loads of youngsters out there reaping the benefit of the facilities and the coaches that are here, which is very good and very encouraging.

"It was a natural fit for us to join up with West Ham United in this locality. West Ham bring the sporting side and we bring the opportunity for work placements and construction skills."

Once Academy graduate Joe Cole was similarly effusive in his praise of the partnership, insisting that it sits very comfortably within the Hammers' framework as an inclusive family Club.

"It's good, because big businesses do have a responsibility, like footballers do, to invest time and money into places," he explained. With Higgins, they're good West Ham people, the company's family run by West Ham supporters. It's what the Club's all about!"

The 31-year-old was named Community patron last season and it is plain to see why. As well as his deep-rooted affection for the Club, Cole cares deeply that local youngsters are given the tools to succeed, with the Trust and Higgins at the very heart of that process.

He continued: "It has been a good experience to come down here. I've met a couple of the guys briefly before, but it's amazing what the Club's doing in the community.

Joe Cole at Beckton
Joe Cole shares some advice with the Trust's budding footballers

"Kids need to be given opportunities to improve. These places here, when the penny drops with the kids, they come here and can develop themselves into good, important people who can make the best of themselves.

"Not all of them are going to make it in football, because it's a tough industry. But if they take just one thing out of this process, of being here and learning personal skills, learning communication and things like that, it will help them massively to go and better themselves and do what they want to do."

Mr Cooke could hardly agree more, hopeful that their sponsorship will continue to improve young lives.

He explained: "As a company, the family have got West Ham at their heart, so we certainly support West Ham as a club on the football field, but also in seeing the work with the young people and how you create an opportunity.

"We can build houses, give them new homes and new facilities, but the youngsters have got to have the opportunity to build new lives. I think the link with West Ham has created that, so that you get the buildings and the people skills going together at the same time, which has been very good.

"There are new opportunities for us and new opportunities for West Ham moving to Stratford as well. I think there's lots of work to be done, opportunities arising, hopefully we can work together in the future and make the most of those."