The Crystal Palace Supporters Children's Charity (CPSCC) pulled out all the stops for their 43rd anniversary, with patron Bill Nighy, Alan Pardew, Keith Millen and a number of first-team players all in attendance at the charity’s annual Christmas party.
Chatting and taking selfies with young fans (and carers alike) Nighy says he was moved by the club’s continued support to what is now an integral part of the charity’s year.
“It’s been 10 years since I was asked to be a patron of the charity, and whenever I can I always come to the Christmas party. I think it’s just a wonderful event and the fact that the manager and first team players are here with the kids is a sensational thing - I think it’s really impressive. It’s part of the club’s tradition and I find it very touching. The children come back every Christmas – for some of them it’s the highlight of the year.”
Growing up not far from Selhurst Park, Nighy’s family are also big supporters of the club and he feels lucky to be involved in a cause close to his heart.
“I never thought I’d be a patron of anything in my life so it’s an incredible honour and it has a particular meaning for me. It’s a small thing I do but it makes me part of the whole thing.”
Nighy is no different to the majority of Palace supporters who are pinching themselves about the club’s turn in fortune over the past few years, but the actor says it has little to do with luck.
“I must say I think I’m dreaming at the moment. Supporters of other clubs come up to me and say ‘Palace played quite well’ and I say you’d better get used to it because we’ve been playing like that for some time and you just haven’t noticed. Nobody wants to come to Selhurst Park and nobody wants us going to them. We’re now assumed to be a Premier League club and it’s fantastic.”
The party’s atmosphere was reflected in the buoyant mood of the players, with Chung-yong Lee and Joel Ward in particular on good form as they handed out bags of party food to the young guests.
“I’ve done a few Christmas parties over the years but this is my first one with CPSCC. It’s a joy to be here and give back to the community. We can’t lose the connection to the fans, it’s very important that as the club gets bigger we make the most of these opportunities to do things for the local community - as we move forward, this whole aspect of the club has got to move forward too.”