Moore Family Foundation launches

West Ham United's new principal charity, the Moore Family Foundation, is now officially up and running following a lively launch event at Ripple Primary School, the very place that Bobby Moore once attended.

Community Sports Trust patron Matt Jarvis and founder Roberta Moore were on hand to give the charity lift off, together with some 90 year six pupils and the Foundation's many key partners.

Established in Bobby's memory, the Moore Family Foundation is to provide life-changing opportunities for some 18,000 Year 6 students in Newham, Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham, Thurrock, Brentwood and Basildon over the next three years. Trust mentors will support pupils with literacy and numeracy, while the children will also visit the Boleyn Ground and the new Stadium to experience an authentic Hammers matchday for themselves.

In fact, that process has long since begun, with Ripple Primary School pupils enjoying West Ham's 3-1 Barclays Premier League win over Swansea City. What's more, sat in prime position in the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand, the visiting youngsters had the perfect view of Andy Carroll's towering first-half header and, to their delight, were even pictured in the Guardian.

As Roberta explained: "It was really special to see all the children so engaged and particularly when they were showed the photograph of them at the match. They were all zoning in to see whether they could see their faces. It was brilliant!"

What followed was a youthful rendition of Bubbles and Roberta, who addressed the children, is hopeful that there is many a Hammer in the making at Ripple.

"They're so enlivened by it and they all seemed to be really enjoying it. There were a couple who weren't West Ham fans before, but I think they are now!"

Having worked long and hard devising the programme with West Ham United and its Community Sports Trust over the past 12 months, Roberta is rightly thrilled to see the wheels in motion and even more so to be back at her father's school.

"For this to happen at my Dad's old primary school is really touching for me, it's special. I'm really proud. It was a year ago that we started talking about it and to fast forward one year and you see that, it's fantastic. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all rolls out over the next three years. I'm really, really happy. It seems to be gaining momentum."

Such is the sense of community surrounding the Foundation, that there are no less than a dozen key partners and funders, without whom this would not have been possible. Roberta personally paid tribute to the invaluable support of the Premier League, Professional Footballers' Association, Active Essex, Canary Wharf Contractors Fund, Creative, Sport & Leisure, London City Airport, the London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham and Newham, West Ham United Inspire and Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation.

In his new role as Community patron, Jarvis enjoyed an entertaining Q&A with the pupils, who asked all manner of questions about his schooldays. From role models, to favourite teachers and even the prospect of a post-football career in table tennis!

Roberta, for her part, was suitably impressed. "Matt's been fantastic. The children were all asking the right questions and he was giving all the right answers, it was great, really good."

The 28-year-old winger took question time in his stride and was blown away by the scale of the programme's influence.

"It's a fantastic project. Going into so many different schools and hopefully reaching 18,000 pupils will be a fantastic achievement.

"The school's got fantastic facilities and it is strange to think that this is exactly where Bobby Moore stood. It's incredible to think that perhaps there's someone in there that in 20 years' time could be lifting the World Cup for England!"

While that may be somewhat ambitious, headmaster Roger Mitchell believes the Foundation gives his pupils the best possible opportunity to fulfil their potential.

He explained: "It's motivational. It's a marvellous thing that we get to take the children on trips to the ground to see matches and to go on Stadium tours.

"That's the carrot, the other side of it is we have a mentor who comes in three days a week, working one day in each of our year six classes, helping those children who might not be able to grasp a certain concept, or could just do with a little bit more input and that helps them achieve what they may not be able to otherwise. The extra support is a fantastic opportunity for our children."

But there is no getting away from the thrill of Premier League football and Mr Mitchell reckons the experience will have made its mark on his Year 6 students, not that it was all plain sailing.

"We were sitting beside the away fans and when the first goal went in, obviously there was a lot of noise around us and our kids were a little bit glum," he said. "Three more goals went in from West Ham and it quietened down on their side and it livened up on ours. The kids thought it was magical. Christmas came early for them. I think you've got your next round of Season Ticket Holders out of a lot of those children, they loved it.

"Walking down from Upton Park station and you see the ground coming up on the left-hand side. Their jaws drop open and they're absolutely amazed. One of them just looked around and said 'how does everyone know where to sit?'

"It's just a wonderful experience, something that they've never done before and something I hope they'll always want to do."

Sentiments echoed by Head of Community, West Ham United Community Sports Trust, Joe Lyons, who believes the Foundation can have an enduring impact on east London.

"The Community Sports Trust is delighted to be supporting the Moore Family Foundation. The sheer number of young people with whom we'll engage, whether it be through healthy lifestyle workshops, educational mentoring or West Ham matchdays, will have a lasting effect on the local community. The support of our funders has of course been pivotal and we are all tremendously excited about the programme's future."