Thursday 23 Dec
Updated Thursday 23 Dec 20:30
Foundation

Kate Longhurst joins Any Old Irons for Christmas celebrations

 

Kate Longhurst has shared well wishes and memories with the Any Old Irons as part of the Over-60s group’s Christmas celebrations.

As part of the Club's 12 Days of Christmas community drive, held to mark the third anniversary of The Players' Project, the midfielder joined a video call with some of the Any Old Irons members, answering questions and giving insight into training plans over the Christmas period.  

Since the Any Old Irons programme was formed in 2015, participants have had a range of exciting opportunities consisting of trips, special events and guest speakers, consisting of the likes of Sir Trevor Brooking and Ray Winstone.

By bring people together through their love and memories of West Ham United, the scheme aims to tackle social isolation and loneliness and has assisted over 300 people to date, with ongoing alumni engagement. 

Through the Players’ Project, West Ham United’s men’s, women’s and academy teams regularly show their support for the group and this latest activity with Kate Longhurst followed other discussions over the autumn and winter with David Martin, Declan Rice, Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks.

We wouldn’t be anywhere and the men wouldn’t be anywhere without fans

Kate Longhurst

Explaining what the community and Any Old Irons means to the players, Longhurst said: “Football is nothing without the community and the people that support the teams. We wouldn’t be anywhere and the men wouldn’t be anywhere without fans.

“Obviously, I’m a fan of the men’s team as well - it’s nice to feel part of something and all have a common interest and a common goal where you can all relate to a passion that we all have. But also as a player, it’s nice to be able to have this sort of contact and communication with people that come and support us because it’s a very rare thing where you get to experience something like this.

“And that’s why whenever I get the opportunity I’d love to be coming to a pie and mash night or a Christmas party [with the Any Old Irons] because I really enjoy seeing everyone as well. You know, it’s like an extended family so it’s lovely for me as well.”

 

Hammers fan Kate Longhurst is a long-time supporter of Any Old Irons
Hammers fan Kate Longhurst is a long-time supporter of Any Old Irons

 

At the beginning of the month, over 100 of the Any Old Irons came together at two separate events in east London and Essex for a Christmas dinner, which included gifts and prizes from West Ham United. Kate continued the holiday spirit on the call, wearing a Christmas jumper to help spread cheer at what can be a challenging time for many. 

Throughout the pandemic a range of methods have been used to keep connected with elderly, lonely and vulnerable people across the community, including: calls, letters, video messages, care packages, digital support and more. 

Speaking to Longhurst about the impact of Club and player support, Any Old Irons member, Sue, stated: “To meet people and realise that your concerns are the same as ours, and you want lots of the same sorts of things… is very fulfilling and very humbling in some ways because it’s taken me a while to realise we’re all just people.

“I think the fact that you [players] do reach out… for the whole community it means so much.”

 

Declan Rice checks in on Any Old Irons members via Zoom
Declan Rice checked in on Any Old Irons members via Zoom earlier this year

 

Fellow member Eileen explained that check-in calls from West Ham United’s Supporter Services across the pandemic and a recent personal phone call from Ben Johnson, when she was distressed after being pick-pocketed while out shopping, had made a big difference to her.

“I was very upset and he [Ben Johnson] listened to me and it was just so lovely - a kind thought like that - you know you think ‘aren’t there awful people about taking purses’ and it restores your faith in humanity. It cheered me up no end, honestly”, she said. 

Don Adams, Chair of the Any Old Irons, summed up the close relationship between the group and the Club, saying: “I think things like we’re doing today help us feel part of the bigger West Ham family.”

 

12 Days of Christmas