Prince Harry left schoolchildren giddy with delight when he made a surprise visit to an East Ham holiday scheme.
The royal dropped in to Central Park to learn more about the StreetGames Fit And Fed and initiative.
One group of children ran rings around him as he joined in their handball game and he responded by scooping one little boy up and swinging him around.
He left another youngster in a fit of giggles after tackling him from behind during the game and stopped to pose for a selfie with a young girl.
The Prince also talked to staff and volunteers from national sports charity StreetGames, the borough’s leisure trust activeNewham and North Woolwich organisation Fight For Peace who have partnered for the holiday scheme.
Multi sports coach with activeNewham Paul Nathaniel said: “I didn’t even know Prince Harry was coming today.
“It was good to have him here.
“I told him he obviously hadn’t got the memo about bringing his football boots to join in but he said he is more of a rugby fan.
“But he said next time he would bring them.”
Fit And Fed, run by StreetGames with Ambition and Sported networks, aims to provide summer holiday activities and meals for children in deprived areas.
Research shows 60% of families with an annual income of £25,000 cannot always afford food during the holidays.
StreetGames CEO Jane Ashworth said: “It’s reckoned between three and four million children are at risk of going without food and that is most acute during the school holidays.
“It’s great that Prince Harry is able to show the world that not only is there a problem with holiday hunger but that organisations on the ground are doing something about it.”
Funded by The Summer Give and supported by Newham Council, activeNewham plans to run 15 Fit And Fed sessions in Central Park throughout the school holidays.
Up to 60 children are expected each day and will receive lunch thanks to FareShare , a national organisation which collects surplus food from supermarkets and redistributes it to charities and community groups.
During his visit Prince Harry helped dish up a meal of sandwiches and salads to the children and chatted to local residents and community leaders.
Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “It’s terrific he’s come to this part of the country.
“The fact that he’s here shows he gets it- that we need to support these kids during the holidays.
“We know kids do better educationally if they are eating properly.
“But after the holidays some kids come back to school weighing less and that is not acceptable. Not in a rich country like us.
“It’s impossible to identify those kids which is why our offer is universal. We give all kids free school meals and chance to play sports and chance to learn an instrument.
“You have to offer it to all so you can be sure you’re not missing any.”
Community activation manager for activeNewham Daniel Burford said: “It was fantastic to have Prince Harry here.
“He said it was great to see to many young people being active and playing in the parks.”
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