Hammers humbled by hospice

A group of West Ham United players were left humbled following a festive visit to Richard House Children's Hospice.

Mark Noble, Kieron Dyer, Jack Collison, Pablo Barrera, Victor Obinna, Peter Kurucz and Tal Ben Haim met youngsters at the Beckton-based facility in the Hammers heartland of Newham on Tuesday, presenting them with large Christmas sacks full of Hammers goodies.

While local lad Noble is a long-time supporter of Richard House, many of the players had never visited the hospice before.

Meeting children with life-limiting illnesses and being given a tour of the hospice was a hugely moving experience for the group. They also focused their attention on the families of those affected, making sure to give plenty of attention to those who provide a valuable support network in the home.


Obinna listened intently to the range of care services offered by Richard House, while also studying the many collages of photographs of happy, smiling children adorning the hospice's walls.

"I don't know how to sum up my emotions when I come to somewhere like this," said the No33. "It is very difficult to say how you feel. It makes me feel happy that I was able to come and visit and put smiles on the faces of the children.

"I am really humbled by the experience of meeting the kids and their families.

"The work they are doing here is huge, unbelievable, amazing. It is something special and I encourage them more and more to keep doing it, no matter how many difficult it is.

"I have seen so many pictures around and so many children and they are all having a wonderful time. To see the smiles and to meet people who can make the kids happy is amazing.

"It brings it home to me how lucky I am to be in sound health."

The Nigerian has a large extended family back in his homeland, including a number of young nephews. With them in mind, Obinna expressed his intention to return to Richard House in the New Year.

"I don't have any kids but I have many young family members back home. I am always been sent pictures of them - it seems like every day - so I know important they are. I miss them a lot and being at the hospice reminded me to make sure we stay close.

"Personally, it gives me more motivation to come here often. I intend to visit regularly because it is important to support those working so hard for these kids."

Richard House Chief Executive Peter Ellis said the players' visit had puts smiles on the faces of patients and staff alike.

"We are here to support children and young people and their families whose lives are affected by a life-limiting condition, which means they are likely to die before adulthood.

"We are dealing with death, but our work is about living life to the full. If you know that you will not have as many years as you might normally have, then you think about what you would like to do in the time you do have.

"Our core purpose is to accompany young people on their journey through life to their death, making good, positive memories along the way that their families can cherish in the future.

"The relationship between the club and the hospice is fantastic and long may it continue. We have been supported by West Ham for several years now and it is good for us and hopefully good for the club as well.

"Looking at the children's faces as they receive their gifts is the greatest illustration of how positive that relationship is."

Kieron Dyer and Jack Collison