Anton Ferdinand and Carlton Cole have led the way at West Ham United this season in backing the good work done by the Richard House children's hospice.
From pedalling away on exercise bikes in front of a busy business community to getting up on stage in front of a large crowd at an evening ball, the duo have been keen to raise the profile of one of two official club charities - the other being the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research. Richard House has since 2000 helped hundreds of life-limited children and their families. This Saturday's home game against Chelsea has been dedicated in the charity's honour.
Ferdinand saw at first hand just what Richard House was all about when he visited the hospice with team-mate Mark Noble earlier this season. He then took part in a cycle challenge with Cole at Canary Wharf to promote a London to Paris bike ride for Richard House. The fundraising event will happen in September, with participants departing the Beckton hospice for a 300km cycle to the French capital.
Homegrown defender Ferdinand revealed he was well aware of the responsibilities of his position: "We have the power and the presence to make young children happy, especially those with illnesses. There was one kid called Thomas who really touched me. To be able make these children's day and see them smile stands means a lot to me."
Cole added: "I am taking Anton's lead here because he knows more about the hospice than I do. I have been to few events with him and he has filled me in on some of the people that he has met and how it has touched him. I wanted to get involved." The striker did that to much more high-profile effect at the hospice's annual charity ball last November when he and Ferdinand suddenly found themselves on stage entertaining the crowd.
Ferdinand takes up the story. He said: "It all started as a joke really. I said in passing that if someone bid £5,000 I would get up on stage and sing one verse of a song. Then Coley added in that he would do a moonwalk! We obviously didn't think anyone in the room would pay that sort of money to see us two jokers even if it was for charity but we didn't realise there was another footballer and a good friend of both of ours at the ball."
The good friend the defender is referring to is former Hammers midfielder Joe Cole who became an ambassador for Richard House during his time with the club and remains involved to this day. He was more than willing to pledge the money to see two former team-mates perform to a room of 500 distinguished guests and Anton and Carlton were more than happy to oblige.
"When I saw Joe's hand go up to offer to pay the money I knew I would have to go through with it but to be honest I was more than happy because I believe so strongly in the charity and what they do," Ferdinand added. "When I went to the hospice I was so touched by what a wonderful warm place it was and how hard the staff work to make sure the children there are always having fun but also being stimulated. I have also been told my voice isn't that bad so I knew I wasn't going to embarrass myself which I think Joe was hoping for!"
For more information about the Richard House charity cycle from London to Paris, click here. An information evening is to take place on Tuesday 11 March.
(Picture courtesy of Lesley Johnson)