Arsenal takeover Welywn Garden City Willow store to raise money for Bob Wilson’s charity
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Arsenal took over the Willow Foundation store in Welwyn Garden City today to raise money for the charity set up by former Gunner Bob Wilson.
Arsenal Foundation filled the store in Fretherne Road with club merchandise to support Willow, which organises special days for seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40.
Bob was delighted by the Arsenal takeover, telling Islington Gazette sports reporter Dan Mountney: "The fact that we do special days as a charity, this is a special day for me. It's a special day for everyone attached to the charity.
"It's extraordinary how much they've donated, they came up with the idea and brought everything down.
"I asked Will Stone, director of the Arsenal Foundation who is here with us today, how much there was here and he said it's £65,000 worth.
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"For me, it's very moving - I'm very proud to be an ambassador for the Arsenal Foundation who are supporting not just in this way today, but we have an ongoing agreement with them where they give us £183,000 over three years.
"We give special days throughout all life-limiting illness - but they specifically are talking about degenerative illnesses, really horrible degenerative disease."
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Arsenal fans queued outside the store before its doors were opened by Bob, who signed books and shirts for customers on Friday.
Speaking about the special days that Willow provide, he added: "The uniqueness about Willow is the age group because we give special days for seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40.
"That's all life-limiting, life-threatening illnesses - not just cancer."
"We are amazed that we've given more than 16,000 of these special days and they can either really complex or as simple as a visit to the training ground, meeting the players, getting things signed, or it can a theatre weekend in London.
"More and more people are learning about who we are, what we do and why we do it.
"As I get that bit older - with my 78th birthday coming up soon - I'm amazed that this charity we set up in memory of our daughter, specifically in Hertfordshire only, became a nationwide charity within five years and has now been doing what we've been doing for almost 20 years."