Surprise gift from Arsenal FC after David's caseworkers support fire victim
May 14, 2018
When a fire destroyed the home of Nigel Slarke, the lifelong Arsenal fan lost a precious suit; a souvenir of happier times when he posed alongside football stars Alexis Sanchez, Mezut Ozil and Olivier Giroud.
Nigel, a 72-year-old actor and model, turned to the office of his MP David Drew for assistance following the fire, and received far more than he expected from the team at the Stroud Labour MP’s office.
He was surprised and delighted to be given an Arsenal shirt signed by every member of the team this week, a gift from Arsenal FC and their sponsors Puma, in response to a request from the David Drew MP’s staff.
Nigel had been one of the models who featured in the launch of the 2017/18 Arsenal team kit two years ago. He successfully auditioned and he was recruited as the ‘granddad’ figure for the ‘family’ photo shoot.
“I was overwhelmed. I had supported them all my life,” said Nigel. He spent four days working alongside football stars Olivier Sanchez and Theo Walcot and top stylists to create the perfect image for the launch.
“At the end of the shoot Giroud said to me, ‘You look great in that suit. Would you like it? I’ll have a word with the agency,’” he said.
Nigel was given the suit as a souvenir of his modelling stint for Arsenal.
But, like the rest of Nigel’s possessions, it was destroyed in the fire in February which destroyed his home at Cam Green. Nigel,asleep in his living room at the time, was unaware of the blaze, which had spread upstairs, and was rescued by a neighbour.
Since then Nigel has been living in temporary accommodation in Cam while he rebuilds his life. He turned to the office of David Drew MP, Labour MP for Stroud, for assistance with financial matters and paperwork.
When David’s caseworking staff also learned of Nigel’s lifelong Arsenal support and the loss of his suit, they contacted Puma, Arsenal’s sponsorship partner, to tell them Nigel’s story.
“We were thrilled when Puma responded so positively and sent a signed Arsenal shirt as a gift to Mr Slarke,” said David Drew MP.
“My small case-working team deal with a huge variety of issues for constituents, helping people to deal with bureaucratic or financial difficulties and, as in the case of Mr Slarke, adding a human touch too. As a lifelong football fan myself, I have no doubt that this will mean a lot to Mr Slarke, and I’d like to thank Puma and Arsenal FC for their thoughtful gesture.”
Puma has said its team were devastated to learn of the fire in Nigel’s home.
“Nigel is part of the PUMA family, when we heard what happened we were absolutely devastated. Even though a shirt will not fix the current situation it will remind him that he is greatly appreciated by family, friends and work colleagues,” said Omar Perez Prieto, Puma’s senior manager of the partnership with Arsenal FC.
Nigel was thrilled and surprised to receive his gift.
“I’m unbelievably delighted. To have them all sign it is absolutely magnificent. I couldn’t have received anything nicer.
“My dad and I went to the cup final in 1971 when Arsenal beat Liverpool. Charlie George scoring the winning goal and later gave us a signed scarf. If my dad had been here to see this he would have been overwhelmed.”
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