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Saint Francis Hospice announced as West Ham United’s newest official club charity

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 February 2019

Paul Freedman with former West Ham manager Sam Allardyce.

Paul Freedman with former West Ham manager Sam Allardyce.

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West Ham United has announced that Saint Francis Hospice will now be an official club charity.

Andy Furneaux, community fundraiser and Dr Anisa Chowdhury with Hammer Head and Frankie the Lion. Photo: Saint Francis HospiceAndy Furneaux, community fundraiser and Dr Anisa Chowdhury with Hammer Head and Frankie the Lion. Photo: Saint Francis Hospice

The hospice in Havering-Atte-Bower provides specialist end of life care, and will now be one of the seven charity partners chosen by the club.

Each of the club’s chosen charities reaches out to a different scope of people, communities or beneficiaries.

West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking is also a patron of the charity, and the hospice has said it is looking forward to working with Sir Trevor to help raise awareness and much-needed funds for the charity.

There is a little bit of history between the hospice and West Ham.

Paul Freedman is applauded by other runners as he takes part in one of his many marathons.Paul Freedman is applauded by other runners as he takes part in one of his many marathons.

West Ham will never forget the late Paul Freedman – a Hammers fanatic, fundraising legend and celebrated marathon runner who had trained alongside Sam Allardyce’s squad.

Paul quickly became a local and national celebrity after he took up running at 61 and ran his first London Marathon aged 69 – hitting the headlines in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 when he was the oldest official runner.

A member of Havering 90 Joggers, Paul went on to complete 24 marathons, 18 of which were to support Saint Francis Hospice.

Paul was also a volunteer on the inpatient unit and on Christmas Day would visit the Hospice and serve Christmas dinner. When the eating was over, he would go back around telling jokes, entertaining patients and visitors.

Paul Freedman with West Ham players Cheikhou Kouyate, James Tomkins, Adrian, and Enner ValenciaPaul Freedman with West Ham players Cheikhou Kouyate, James Tomkins, Adrian, and Enner Valencia

Paul died peacefully, aged 92, in February 2017 after losing his battle with cancer.

A spokesman from the charity said: “At Saint Francis Hospice our corporate partnerships are incredibly important as they allow us to engage with local businesses, their employees, families and friends.

“These relationships also bring in much-needed funds to the hospice, both as fundraising or as gift in kind donations.

“The other benefit is that they help us raise awareness of our cause, remind people that we’re a charity, that we’re here to help our local communities, and that we offer our support free of charge. “

Paul Freedman with Sam Allardyce as Paul cracks one of his famous jokes.Paul Freedman with Sam Allardyce as Paul cracks one of his famous jokes.

Saint Francis Hospice CEO Pam Court said: “As the only adult hospice chosen, we’re excited to use this partnership to promote just what we can offer to our local communities. It’s an amazing opportunity to show people that we do so much more than many realise.

“Many of our patients, their families, and our supporters are West Ham fans so it’s wonderful to have this backing from our largest local football club.”

Joe Lyons, West Ham United Foundation’s CEO, said: “At West Ham we are committed to raising awareness of local organisations making a difference to our community. This, together with the strong West Ham connection at Saint Francis Hospice, makes our new charity partnership the perfect fit.”

For more information about the charity and the work it carries out, visit their website.

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