Hammers brighten Rainbow Ward

There were plenty of smiling faces to greet West Ham United players who visited Newham University Hospital over the holidays.

Despite it being a difficult time for the young patients and their families in Rainbow Ward, the children gave the squad - led by Matthew Upson - a warm welcome. As well as bringing lots of Hammers goody bags, the players also presented several large flat-screen televisions to the ward.

The players had all donated their own money for the TVs. It will mean the children on the ward will be able to have a brighter 2011 watching all of their favourite shows - including Match of the Day featuring the Hammers, of course.

Alongside skipper Upson were Scott Parker, Lars Jacobsen, Jonathan Spector, Carlton Cole, Danny Gabbidon, Luis Boa Morte, Julien Faubert, Freddie Piquionne, James Tomkins, Valon Behrami, Junior Stanislas and Ruud Boffin.

The squad spent time with the hospital's young patients, their relatives and staff including Dr Mike Gill who showed the players around. For the players they were only too happy to raise spirits and bring some cheer to all during the holiday season.

Jacobsen, a father himself with a young son, said: "Everyone would like to spend Christmas at home with their families but some young kids are unfortunate and have to stay in hospital so they can get healthy again. I just wish them all a quick recovery.

"Everyone was in good spirits. It is unbelievable, they are unwell and so it must be difficult to be in such good spirits but they are all happy and playing around. When you have kids at home like me it is always difficult to come to a place like this. You put yourselves in their shoes, we are just happy to help a bit.

"It is nice to have the feeling that you can help somebody, especially the kids. They are the biggest fans of football, if we can help just a little bit then we are very happy to do so."

Sophia Touzani, ward manager, said: "We were absolutely delighted and overwhelmed with the visit and the huge generosity and support of the West Ham United players and the club for donating so many wonderful gifts - and their time - to us.

"Our young patients loved meeting the players, as did our staff. We feel honoured and privileged to have been chosen for this visit. The large televisions, which were so kindly donated to the ward by the players themselves, will make such a difference to so many children who are patients here both now and for many years in the future.

"We are all so grateful, and want to say a huge thank you to West Ham United for all their magnificent support. We hope they will visit us again soon."

Upson, who happily donned a bright orange apron and got involved with the kids during some activities, said: "We were only too happy to come and visit the youngsters here at Newham Hospital and we hope that we gave them some cheer as they go through what must be a very difficult time for them and their families.

A father himself with a toddler son himself, he added: "It was also great to meet all the staff who work around the clock to care for the children and thank you to everyone who made us feel very welcome. We hope that they enjoyed the visit as much as we did."

Team-mate Gabbidon said: "It was great meeting the kids and seeing their faces light up, we were only too glad to visit. It also makes you put your own life into perspective and you realise how lucky you are.

"As for the staff, it was just as important to spend time with them, as they do such an important and vital job. It was a pleasure for us to visit."