Hammers Advent Calendar - Day 17

West Ham United captain Mark Noble made an emotional return to Richard House Children's Hospice on Wednesday as he brought some Christmas joy to the children.

Noble is a patron and long-standing supporter for London's first children's hospice which is located in the Docklands area of east London.

The Hammers midfielder visited the centre alongside Enner Valencia and Joey O'Brien and spent considerable time with children and their families and brought a few festive goodies.

Noble wasted no time helping a young girl do some drawings and even picked up a hoover at one point, while Valencia also showed his creative side with a Christmas card for one of the youngsters.

O'Brien was also tested by one of the Children's computer games and seemed to enjoy being challenged by the youngsters.

Noble will always have a special place in his heart for the hospice as it is just down the road from where he used to live and says he will continue to give his support and do everything he can to help the children.

“I always say it, but the staff here, to look after the kids and the families the way they do is phenomenal. It's just a real eye opener.

“When you're at places like this football takes a backward step because you realise how lucky you are to be able to go out on the pitch, run around, laugh and enjoy football, when 90 per cent of the kids here can't even get out of the chairs they're in. It puts life into perspective. 

“It’s only a couple of minutes’ walk from where I used to live and I used to play football in the park over the road. It's become second nature. I gave all my wedding proceeds to Richard House to help them out and have supported them for the last six, seven years now.” 

Noble, as he always his, was a massive hit with the youngsters, even if two-year-old Alexis proved a tougher crowd than most!  

“I think I was boring her, to be honest,” he joked. “I started making a card with her, she got bored of that, then I did some hoovering, and she got bored of that too. So she keeps running away from me. She's a free spirit and it's great to spend some time with these children.” 

Seventeen-year-old Murad, who shared many a joke with Noble, thanked the Hammers for spreading some Christmas cheer, not least to distract the youngsters from their difficult realities.      

“I'm very happy and I'm very thankful, because they've given their time just to see us, especially the kids who have life-limiting conditions. It makes them happy and it makes me happy as well. Thanks to Mark Noble and everyone else for making them happy, it's really nice. 

“It means so much, not just for me, but the kids who have been through a lot. We need something to take our minds off hospital appointments and a bit of happiness.”

Joel Voysey,  Director of Income Generation, paid tribute to West Ham’s skipper for continuing to champion the cause and said the Hammers’ visit is a very special part of creating memories for the families in their care.     

“It's something we really look forward to. They come every year and it's a bit of a highlight of our Christmas season. The families love to come and spend time with them and it's great to see the players interacting with the children and learning more about the support that Richard House can give to our families. 

“Mark's a local lad, from Canning Town and has been associated with the Hospice for many, many years now. He's been a staunch supporter and I think to have someone in the captain's role, bringing the players with him and telling them about the work that he does with the hospice is really lovely, so we're very fortunate.         

“A lot of what we do here at Richard House is about making special memories for families, we know that some of the families won't be together for a long time, so it's about filling their days with the most fun and the best, most positive memories that we can. This is a really crucial part of that.”