The Arsenal Forest comes to London

Arsenal Forest visits London

On Friday, March 15 a very important delegation arrived for a tour of Emirates Stadium. 

Ru Hartwell, Steve Pooley, Alex Katana and John Bett were our welcome guests in north London and, for Alex and John in particular, it was a day they will never forget – because both had made the long trip over from Bore in Kenya, home of the Arsenal Forest. 

CarbonLink, the company we have partnered with in our award-winning sustainability project, is run by Ru, a global forestry expert, with Steve, one of his most valued volunteers and someone who spends a lot of time with the project in Kenya. 

John has a long history in sustainable foresty in his native Kenya, working with WWF-Kenya, global planting company Tree-Nation and CarbonLink, who as well as working with the Gunners list the Welsh Government as one of their major planting partners. 

Alex is very much “on the ground” in the Arsenal Forest, supervising all of the growing in the nursery, planting and the security and logistics on the site – we have featured Alex’s brilliant work a number of times since we entered into our partnership at the start of the 2021/22 season.

Programme editor Andy Exley met the group at Arsenal Tube station and, following a whistle-stop tour of Highbury, including a look into the hallowed Marble Halls, they entered Emirates Stadium to meet club photographer Stuart MacFarlane, who expertly guided the group around the dressing rooms, pitchside and other exclusive areas. On top of that, John and Alex were presented with a signed shirt and lots of Arsenal goodies to take home to Kenya.  

After heading back to our offices at Highbury House, Alex and John produced two hand-carved Arsenal plaques to present to the club. The artwork had been created using neem trees, the species planted in our Arsenal Forest, now universally known in the Bore region of Kenya as “the Arsenal Tree”. They also presented Andy with a large bottle of honey harvested from the hives in our Arsenal Forest – a very sweet ending to a wonderful afternoon. 

For John, it was a trip he will never forget: “As a young soccer enthusiast hailing from Africa, the mere thought of visiting the revered Arsenal offices and the iconic Emirates Stadium was nothing short of a dream come true,” he said. “Like many others across the continent, I had grown up admiring the legacy and prowess of Arsenal Football Club, making this pilgrimage all the more significant.

“Setting foot into the hallowed grounds of the Emirates Stadium, I was overwhelmed with a sense of awe and excitement.”

John went on to explain the importance of the Arsenal Forest project to the community in Kenya. “It is not merely about planting trees,” he said. “It symbolises a beacon of hope and sustainability. By investing in the reforestation efforts of Bore, Arsenal is not only benefiting the local planters but also nurturing biodiversity and combating the adverse effects of climate change. It’s a testament to the club’s commitment to making a tangible difference beyond the realms of the football pitch.

“On sharing the incredible story of my visit with my community, I could feel the collective sense of pride and inspiration swelling among my peers. Arsenal’s impact on our local community transcends borders, fostering a sense of unity and purpose.

“The generosity of Arsenal also extends to our local soccer teams, who benefit immensely from receiving Arsenal football kits. The spirit of the club resonates deeply within our hearts, igniting a passion for the sport and instilling a sense of belonging.

“Long live Arsenal, not only as a football club but as a beacon of hope and positive change for communities around the world.”

Alex also expressed his delight at the once-in-a-lifetime trip: “It’s my great pleasure to express my happiness on visiting Emirates Stadium. It was an unbelievable tour – everything was explained to us and we saw so many sections of the stadium, inside and outside. Going to the great old stadium at Highbury, seeing the place we had witnessed on TV and in films over many years was amazing, and to be given such great gifts, including an amazing shirt signed by the players… I still don’t believe the way we were hosted, it still feels like a dream! 

“All people here in Bore are amazed with all that has happened there. And I also want to say thank you for working with us these last three years on the project and thanks also from our Lions and Lionesses Football clubs.

“All the best, Asante sana.”

See Full List

Fixtures & Results

Friendly Match
Ticket Info