For West Ham’s home match against Manchester United on Saturday, two staff from Newham Hospital were the flagbearers. Bianca and Nasiha work at the children’s Rainbow Centre, which usually enjoys a visit from the team each Christmas. The nurses then joined the 2,000 people in the socially-distanced crowd who were allowed to watch the Hammers play at the London Stadium for the first time since March.
“The game was such good fun except the result!” said Bianca. “It was an experience that I personally won’t forget! The atmosphere was amazing. Everybody was so friendly, both staff and supporters, which made it all the nicer!
“The continued support and experiences such as these that West Ham United offer to Barts Health and Barts Charity are invaluable and so many at Barts, me included, are super grateful for all they do!”
Also attending the match was Whipps Cross Hospital worker Denise and her family. Earlier this year, Denise’s father Denis – a Hammers fan for over 85 years – received a call from player Pablo Zabaleta while he was undergoing treatment at Newham Hospital. Denis sadly recently passed away after battling COVID-19. West Ham invited his family to enjoy the match from a box in dedication to Denis.
Denise said: “We had a brilliant time being wined and dined and enjoyed the excitement of being part of the crowd, something we have missed this season. All the staff were welcoming and the excitement of having fans back to the ground was palpable. It was poignant at times as we remembered Dad, knowing that he would have loved being spoilt in such great surroundings.”
Last week, Hammers and England midfielder Declan Rice surprised Operational Support Officer Matt Roy with a video call. Matt has played a key role in distributing PPE to the wards this year, and also helps deliver the presents from our Christmas Gift Appeal. As a lifelong West Ham fan, Matt got to chat to his hero Declan about his memories of the club and their Champions league chances.
We’ve been extremely grateful for the Club’s support throughout 2020, which has included a number of video calls with patients and staff, free football shirts, and a tribute to NHS staff in their matchday programmes.
After a difficult year, our hospitals need Christmas more than ever – please donate to our Christmas Gift Appeal to make sure every patient in hospital receives a present this festive season.